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Tripoli's second airport bombed, reports

Mitiga airport has begun diverting all air traffic after pillars of black smoke were seen billowing above the terminal
Tripoli's main airport Tripoli International was damaged in fighting this summer (AFP)

Tripoli’s Mitiga airport was hit by an airstrike shortly before 5pm local time (04.00 GMT) local media and eye witnesses said on Monday.

Mitiga Airport diverted all air traffic to Misrata airport. According to local daily Libya Herald, no casualties have been reported although there were hundreds of people in and around the terminal. Pillars of smoke could be seen billowing from the site after the incident, with local residents also reporting a loud explosion.

Security sources later told AFP that a low-flying fighter jet fired two missiles at the airport, which is in an eastern suburb of Tripoli and held by Libya Dawn, the Misratan Led Alliance (MLA) which controls the capital and opposes the June elected House of Representatives (HoR) based in the eastern town of Tobruk. However, the hit caused no damage to the actual airport terminal or runway, the source added.

The airport has been acting as Libya’s main airport since fighting between rival militias laid waste to Tripoli International this summer.

Libya is currently in the midst of a civil war raging between the MLA of Libya Dawn, who are allied with groups in Benghazi including Ansar al-Sharia, against troops led by ex-general Khalifa Haftar who is allied with the HoR.

Fighters loyal to Libya's internationally recognised HoR have seized control of the key western town of Kekla after more than 40 days of clashes with Islamists, both sides said Monday.

The MLA of Libya Dawn drove out militias from the mountain town of Zintan, who are allied with the HoR, from Tripoli in August after weeks of fighting that killed more than 100 people.

Libya Dawn then approved the reconvening of the General National Congress (GNC), which become defunct after the HoR was elected in June, and oversaw the appointment of a "national salvation" government. 

Meanwhile Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani and his HoR appointed government have sought refuge in Tobruk, after having to shelve plans to locate the parliament in Benghazi due to ongoing fighting there.

Pro-government Zintani fighters, backed by parts of the army and air force loyal to Thani, launched a counter-offensive in October to wrest back control of the strategic outpost of Kekla, southwest of Tripoli.

Thani's government said on Monday that the offensive had brought Kekla under the "command of the army" and that the intention now is to "liberate Tripoli".

The head of the GNC administration in the capital, Jadallah al-Abidi, acknowledged the loss of Kekla, but insisted the defeat did not signal the "collapse" of Libya Dawn forces in the west.

Private television broadcast images on Sunday night appearing to show an army colonel surrounded by soldiers in Kekla after retaking control of the town.

Since the 2011 revolution that ousted long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi, authorities in the troubled North African nation have failed to take control of the militias that fought in the uprising.