By Jihad Nasr
Air traffic at Tripoli’s Mitiga International Airport has returned to normal after flights were suspended for 48 hours due to intermittent armed clashes near the facility.
On Wednesday, the airport issued a schedule of all domestic and international flights into and out of the airport, including three to Istanbul, going on to assert that air traffic “is currently proceeding on schedule”.
On Tuesday, air controllers -- for the third time in two days -- suspended all flights into and out of the airport (which is located 8 kilometers east of Tripoli’s city center) and evacuated all passengers and employees.
Airport officials took the decision following the resumption of armed clashes in the area between two rival militia groups.
In a statement released Tuesday evening, the airport's information office said that the move was intended to “protect the safety of passengers and employees following the renewal of clashes”.
On Monday, armed confrontations broke out near the airport, forcing airport officials to briefly suspend flights before resuming them later the same day.
The violence initially erupted late Sunday night after militiamen loyal to Libya’s Tripoli-based government conducted a raid -- for reasons that remain unclear -- in the nearby Al-Ghrarat district.
The raid eventually led to clashes with a local armed group that continued sporadically for the next two days.
Libya has been dogged by violence and chaos since 2011, when a bloody uprising led to the ouster and death of President Muammar Gaddafi after more than 40 years in power.
The resultant power vacuum led to the emergence of several rival seats of government and a plethora of heavily-armed militia groups.