A deadly missile had hit Tripoli’s only functioning Mitiga airport causing chaos and fear among passengers. The rocket fire at the car park of the airport terminal forced flights to be grounded for almost three hours. It also coincided with the arrival of two flights. Though nobody was hurt, the blast left cars parked nearby riddled with shrapnel.
Missile explosion at Mitiga airport
According to airport authorities, the attack was carried out by the militias of Haftar from their positions south of Tripoli. The missile hit near the airport’s terminal just as two civilian flights were landing – Buraq Air flight from Istanbul and Libyan Airlines flight from Medina in Saudi Arabia. The Libyan carrier had over 200 passengers including Haj pilgrims returning from Mecca. People at the airport heard a big explosion. There was smoke in the air and cars parked near the airport’s terminal were damaged. Also, flights are suspended until further notice. The GNA has blamed Haftar’s forces for the missile explosion at Mitiga airport. With the growing frequency of these attacks, which have come close to hitting civilian aircraft, the UN mission in Libya has raised concerns.
Mitiga, a former military airbase
Located on the eastern side of Tripoli, Mitiga is Libya’s former military airbase. It has been used by civilian traffic since Tripoli international airport was severely damaged during fighting in 2014. It has previously been targeted in fighting between the Tripoli-based UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) and forces loyal to eastern Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar. The two-armed groups have since been fighting on Tripoli’s southern outskirts and Haftar’s forces have allegedly repeatedly targeted Mitiga. Since April, at least 1,093 people were killed and 5,752, wounded while some 120,000 others have been displaced, according to the WHO.