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Tripoli Airport Shelling Destroys Planes; U.N. Pulls Libya Staff

TRIPOLI, Libya - A militia shelled Tripoli airport, destroying 90 percent of planes parked there, a Libyan government spokesman said Tuesday as heavy fighting between armed groups prompted the United Nations to withdraw its staff. At least 15 people have been killed in clashes in Tripoli and the eastern city of Benghazi since Sunday, and a Libyan official said several Grad rockets hit the Tripoli International Airport on Monday, damaging the control tower.

Government spokesman Ahmed Lamine said 90 percent of the planes parked at the airport were destroyed. "Several planes and cars belonging to citizens were hit," said Abdel Rahman, a soldier in a unit protecting the airport. A hall used by customs controls had also been hit, he added. The U.N. mission in Libya said the closure of Tripoli airport and the deteriorating security situation made it impossible for it to operate. Three years after the fall of Moammar Gadhafi, Libya has slipped deeper into chaos with its weak government and new army unable to control brigades of former rebel fighters and militias who often battle for political and economic power.

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- Reuters