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Rival rebels clash at Libya airport

July 13, 2014 6:18 pm

At least seven people have been killed and 30 hurt in clashes between rival militias at Libya’s airport near the capital, Tripoli, officials say.

Rebels from the Zintan region who control the international airport have been attacked by a rival group trying to take over the area.

Flights have been suspended amid reports of heavy shelling and gunfire.

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Libyan leaders have struggled to bring stability to the country since Muammar Gaddafi was removed from power in 2011.

Although some of the rival militias who attacked airport road are known as Islamists – this is not a clear-cut battle of ideologies. At the heart of this fighting is a turf war between militias that has been brewing in the capital for a long time.

We periodically see clashes like this on a smaller scale – the difference today is some have formed alliances with either side and in the years gone by, they’ve grown more powerful and hungrier for power.

Tripoli is divided along district lines with local militias controlling their areas and others from outside the capital who at different times were on various government payrolls. But there has long been a belief that those who control key instillations are the ones who yield the most power over the capital.

There was a reported meeting between the rival militias overnight to calm recent tensions. They allegedly agreed that there would not be clashes in Tripoli. This is clearly far from what came next.

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