Confusion after 'mystery jets' attack Tripoli targets

2014-08-19 07:42
(File, AFP)

(File, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Tripoli - Two unidentified aircraft roared over Libya's capital before dawn on Monday as loud explosions were heard, days after new clashes between militias prompted hundreds of people to flee.

A statement by the provisional government, which lacks any real authority, said it was not known whose aircraft had attacked militia positions.

However, an aide to rogue general Khalifa Haftar, who has launched an offensive against Islamists in second city Benghazi, said the aircraft had been sent by him.

Saqr Jarouchi, also a dissident general, later told AFP: "Those were our planes that launched raids".

But an air force unit that has refused to join Haftar's offensive in the eastern city of Benghazi dismissed the claim, saying the aircraft were "foreign, not Libyan".

The group said in a statement Libyan aircraft are not equipped to make night flights and cannot be refuelled in flight, particularly if they take off from remote air bases controlled by Haftar's forces.

The mystery aircraft first flew over at around 02:00 (0000 GMT) and a resident told AFP he heard a loud explosion which was followed by others.

"The explosions were clearly heard in eastern districts of Tripoli, 15km from the town centre," he said.

Television channel Libya Awalan (Libya First), which is close to Haftar, said: "Military planes bombarded various positions" near Tripoli. It gave no further details.

Haftar's aide said the attacks targeted the Islamist-linked militia of Misrata which has been battling nationalist fighters from Zintan for control of Tripoli international airport.

'Stop fighting'

The airport, closed since 13 July, is in the hands of militiamen from Zintan, southwest of Tripoli.

They have been fending off a challenge from the fighters from Misrata, east of the capital, for control of a bridge giving access to the airport.

Haftar in May launched an offensive dubbed "Operation Dignity" against radical Islamist groups which have held sway in Benghazi since the fall of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Monday's government statement said an inquiry had been launched into the attack by the mystery planes.

"These parties must stop fighting, agree to talk and withdraw from Tripoli and other Libyan towns," the statement said, adding that the government had been in contact with "friendly" states to try to identify the aircraft.

The United States denied social media rumours of US involvement.

"The United States was not involved whatsoever in these events," State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf said.

"We continue to seek more information and cannot confirm any details at this time about who took these airstrikes," she added.

France also denied rumours of French involvement in air strikes.

"Rumours of air raids in Libya in which France was involved are wrong," the foreign ministry spokesperson said in Paris.

"France's priority is a political deal that will end fighting in Tripoli, Benghazi and everywhere in Libya."

New skirmishes between the rival militias raged in Tripoli on Friday and Saturday, with Grad missiles and artillery used but there were no immediate reports of casualties.

State news agency Lana said around 1 000 families had fled the fighting.

The clashes quietened on Sunday when the Misrata brigade claimed to have taken a bridge and an army base, although the claim was impossible to confirm independently.

Libya's newly elected parliament, meeting in the eastern city of Tobruk to avoid the Tripoli violence, called last Wednesday for foreign intervention to protect civilians.

Since launching his offensive in May, Hafter has rallied support from the public and members of the security forces, but other forces have resisted him and authorities regard him as an outlaw.

Read more on:    libya  |  north africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
7 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.