Mon, Mar 23, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Displaced Libyan government bombs Tripoli, kills officer

Reuters, TRIPOLI and BENGHAZI, Libya

Fighters from Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn), an alliance of Muslim-backed militias, check their weapons as they hold a position during clashes with an opposing militia in Bir al-Ghanam, about 85km south of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, on Saturday.

Photo: AFP

Libya’s official government on Saturday conducted air strikes against airports and a military camp in the capital, Tripoli, controlled by a rival government, and killed a senior commander loyal to that government, officials said.

The internationally recognized Libyan government on Friday said that it had launched a military offensive to “liberate” Tripoli, which a group called Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn) seized in August last year, reinstating a previous parliament.

Official Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani and the elected Libyan parliament have been confined to eastern Libya since then. Both administrations and the armed factions loyal to them are fighting for control, four years after former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi was toppled.

A Tripoli official said Salah al-Burki, a Libya Dawn leader, had been killed west of Tripoli, where a state news agency reported clashes between Libya Dawn and forces from Zintan allied to al-Thani.

Details were unclear. Another official and some news Web sites said al-Burki had been killed in an air strike on a military camp in Tripoli.

The US and five European allies issued a joint statement condemning the violence by both sides and urging an end to the fighting. They welcomed resumption of UN-led political talks in Morocco and called for “good faith” efforts to reach a ceasefire and agree on a unity government.

Saqer al-Joroushi, an air force commander loyal to the eastern government, said earlier that his aircraft had bombed Mitiga International Airport in Tripoli and a camp used by Libya Dawn near another airport in the capital.

He said they had also attacked the airport in Zuwara, a town near the Tunisian border, west of Tripoli. An airport official said the runway had been hit but there were no casualties.

On Friday, UN Special Representative to Libya Bernardino Leon said the military offensive threatened international efforts to reach agreement in the next few days on a unity government and lasting ceasefire.

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