Heavy clashes erupt over Tripoli airport, at least four dead




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TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Heavy erupted on Sunday around Tripoli International , where rival militias have been battling for control, killing at least four people and forcing thousands from their homes, local residents and witnesses said.

The standoff is the most serious violence in Tripoli since the 2011 fall Muammar Gaddafi, fragile government unable assert authority over rival brigades former rebels for political and economic power.

Militias used heavy anti-aircraft cannons, Grad missiles and rockets in exchanges around the Qasr Ben Ghashir neighborhood, trapping some families while several thousand others fled the around their homes, community said. [eap_ad_1] One Reuters witness said gunmen were set up on roofs homes facing each other residents caught in between.

“The shells are landing on us from all warring militias,” said Mohammed Abdulrahman, a spokesman for the district. “We couldn’t reach some families until now.”

A doctor from a local said they had received nine wounded from the area. A health ministry official did not return calls seeking confirmation the death toll.

The fighting broke just days after one powerful militia said was ready put an end heavy clashes that had deepened fears the vast African -producing country is becoming a failed state.

The battle pits fighters from Zintan in the northwest and their allies, who controlled the since the ousting of Gaddafi, against tied Misrata, a western coastal town. Both are loosely allied competing Islamist and nationalist political factions.

The clashes have all but suspended international flights from , damaged more than a dozen planes parked at the airport and prompted the United Nations to pull its staff of the country because of fears.[eap_ad_4]