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Libya: Clashes ongoing at Mitiga Airport (MJI) in Tripoli

Clashes ongoing at Tripoli’s Mitiga Airport (MJI) leading to closures; increased threat to travelers

05 Jul 12:45 PM UTC
TIMEFRAME expected from 7/5/2017, 12:00 AM until 7/6/2017, 11:59 PM (Africa/Tripoli). COUNTRY/REGION Tripoli

Event

Clashes are currently ongoing - as of the afternoon of Wednesday, July 5, at Tripoli’s Mitiga International Airport (MJI), leading to the airport’s closure and increased threats to travelers. 

The fighting began early on Sunday, July 2, when gunfire and explosions were reported near the airport, resulting in road closures. Further clashes occurred early in the morning on Tuesday, July 4, in close proximity to the airport. At least one member of the militia group involved in the fighting - the Al-Buni Bde militia - was killed. In retaliation, another clash occurred Tuesday evening; on this occasion a launched rocket missed its intended target and detonated on the beach near the airport, killing five civilians and injuring around 25 others. Talks between members of the fighting militia and airport operators occurred on July 5; however, heavy clashes erupted once again near the airport on July 5, despite rumors that an agreement had been reached.

Damages to the airport itself have not been reported but large plumes of smoke suggest damages in the area. All flights scheduled for July 5 have been canceled. Further flight disruptions are possible in the coming days.

Context

The clashes involve members of the Al-Buni Bde militia, present in the airport area, fighting amongst each other. Unconfirmed reports suggest the confrontation is in regards to smuggling and immigration activities ongoing at the airport. Several other militia groups, including Tripoli Revolutionaries’ Bde, are mobilizing in an attempt to remove Al-Buni Bde from the airport.  The security situation in Libya remains precarious, and with three competing would-be governments, there is little to no sign of a return of relative stability in the near-term.

Advice

Travelers planning to arrive or depart from Tripoli in coming days should consider postponing their flights. MJI and surrounding routes should be avoided until further notice.The security environment in Libya remains complex. Although travel is permissible in some areas, other areas should be considered strictly off limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to travel.

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