Warplanes strike airport in Libya capital again
CAIRO (AP) -- Warplanes again bombed a Libyan military air base Tuesday that until a day earlier was Tripoli's only functioning airport, shortly after the Islamist-backed prime minister said his government was at war.
Late Monday, Prime Minister Omar al-Hassi said the Cabinet will now adopt "a policy of confrontation and war," comments directed at his rivals in Libya's internationally recognized government based in the country's east.
"Now, we face an enemy that has plenty of weapons and support from abroad, and we are facing more than one country supplying it with arms," he said.
Al-Hassi also sharply criticized the United Nations envoy to Libya, saying that Bernardino Leon "doesn't see the reality" of the situation.
The Monday-Tuesday bombings of Matiga air base - held by Islamist-allied militias - appear to be part of efforts by the elected government to retake the capital after the Islamist-allied militias seized it.
The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters, said the morning raids did not result in casualties or damage to the airport. They said several homes near the base were damaged and the attack caused panic at a nearby school.
Two people were killed in Monday's airstrikes on the same base, and an airport official said that three missiles hit the military airstrip's runway.
The base had been used for civilian purposes since last summer when Tripoli International Airport was destroyed. Officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren't authorized to brief reporters.
A body affiliated to al-Hassi government later issued a statement accusing Gen. Khalifa Hifter - who led the military campaign against Islamist militias in the eastern city of Benghazi - of being behind the airstrikes.
In a statement issued Tuesday, a spokesman for the United Nations secretary-general said Ban Ki-moon was "deeply concerned" by the recent escalation of violence, including the air strikes. He also expressed full confidence in his envoy, Leon, and encouraged Libyans to resolve the tensions through dialogue.