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Missiles hit an airport in the Libyan capital and damage a passenger plane

LIBYA (OBSERVATORY) –┬áMissiles hit Libya’s main airport and damaged a plane preparing to take off early on Thursday, a security source said, in a development that underscores the fragility of the security situation.

A spokesman for the Special Deterrence Force said a missile hit an Airbus 320 while other missiles hit the terminal at the airport at about 2 am (0000 GMT) but no one was hurt.

Photos of social media showed damage to the stairs and holes in the wing and structure of the plane.

Armed groups have been controlling the capital Tripoli since the 2011 uprising that toppled leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Armed groups fighting for control and influence wield frequent attacks on Tripoli’s transport centers, undermining the government’s efforts to persuade diplomatic missions to return to the capital.

Two competing governments, one in Tripoli and the other in the east, have been in existence since 2014 when most diplomatic missions were decided to move to Tunisia.

Airlines are struggling to maintain their services and keep Libya connected to the outside world as their aircraft have been damaged by the attacks.

The airport is the only airport operating in Tripoli. The fighting in 2014 caused the main international airport to shut down.

The security force, which runs the airport and tracks the internationally recognized Libyan government, said the rockets were fired by loyalists of an armed group known as Bashir al-Baqarah, a group it had fought with before accusing it of bombing Muaitika from time to time under cover of darkness.

Italy and Turkey reopened their embassies in Tripoli last year. The UN envoy, Ghassan Salama, was in the city where he held a series of meetings on Thursday and attended an evening in the evening with Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

French Ambassador Brigitte Kormi is also in the capital, where she held talks with Libyan officials.

Asked whether the elections would be held this year, Salameh said after meeting Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Tahir Sayala that it would be held in a sure way, noting that international officials had promised the Security Council to do so.

The United Nations arranged a new round of talks in Tunisia in September between rival factions in preparation for the 2018 elections, but divisions have so far prevented any agreement.