Rockets hit runway in Libya's Tripoli, halting flights

Rockets hit runway in Libya's Tripoli, halting flights

Tripoli (AFP) - Two rockets struck a runway at the international airport in Libya's capital Tripoli on Friday, forcing the suspension of flights, an airport source said.

"Two rockets exploded on the main runway of the airport, causing damage. For security reasons, flights were suspended until further notice," the source said on condition of anonymity.

The blasts took place at around 05:00 am (0300 GMT), at a time when the day's inbound and outbound traffic had yet to begin.

An airline representative in the capital told AFP that the authorities had informed firms operating at the airport that flights would remain suspended until 1030 GMT on Saturday.

Since long-time dictator Moamer Kadhafi was deposed in 2011 and killed by rebels in October that year, the international airport has been under the control of former insurgents from Zintan, 170 kilometres (105 miles) southwest of Tripoli.

It is at Zintan that Kadhafi's son and one-time presumed heir Seif al-Islam is being held by ex-rebels.

The North African country's transitional authorities have so far failed to disarm former rebel militias or integrate them into Libya's nascent armed forces.

Eastern Libya has become a bastion of Islamist extremists, with authorities avoiding a full-blown confrontation with heavily armed former rebels pending the formation of a regular army and police force.

On Thursday, however, the government announced it was mobilising its security forces after acknowledging for the first time that "terrorist groups" were behind dozens of attacks against security services and Westerners.

"The nation finds itself in a confrontation with terrorist groups, and it falls upon the government to mobilise its military and security forces to fight this scourge," said a statement published on the government's website.