Libyan PM says government responsible for bombing Tripoli airport

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 25, 2014 10:20 AM

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - Libya's internationally recognized Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni said on Tuesday his government's air force was responsible for strikes on the airport of the capital Tripoli, controlled by a rival administration.

Mitiga airport has been hit at least twice this week, part of growing confrontation between rival factions in the North African state which is struggling for stability three years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi.

"The air strikes on Mitiga airport were conducted by the national air force to target the group Libya Dawn," Thinni's government website quoted him as saying. He was referring to an armed group backing the rival government controlling Tripoli.

Libya Dawn took over the capital Tripoli over the summer, setting up its own government, taking over ministries, and forcing Thinni and the elected parliament to take up residence in the eastern city of Tobruk.

The rival government in Tripoli has said it may forbid a UN official from entering the territory it controls, a move that could make it harder to negotiate an end to a struggle for power that threatens to tear the country apart.

"We were open for dialogue, but are forced into a confrontation and war and we will be victorious," the rival government's Prime Minister Omar al-Hassi said on Monday.

The North African oil producer has had two governments since August when Libya Dawn, whose opponents say is supported by Islamists, seized Tripoli forcing the elected anti-Islamist administration of Thinni to move 1,000 km east.

Western powers worry about the conflict in the OPEC oil producing country spiraling out of control and spilling over Libya's borders in an already volatile region.

(Reporting by Ulf Laessing; editing by Patrick Markey and Ralph Boulton)