By Saber Ayyub and Jamal Adel
Tripoli and Baida, 14 May 2015:
The much-anticipated reopening today of Sebha Airport after a five-month closure . . .[restrict]was abandoned after RPGs were fired at the runway early this morning.
News of the attack caused Afriqiyah Airways to cancel its first flight from Tripoli’s Mitiga airport, which had been due the arrive in Sebha at 11am.
Ibrahim Al-Hadiri from the airline’s operations room told the Libya Herald that the carrier had scratched the flight after it was warned that its aircraft might be targeted in Sebha.
It was only yesterday that the Libyan Civil Aviation Authority gave the go-ahead for the resumption of Sebha services. The airport manager, speaking before the RPGs were fired at his runway, told this newspaper that Sebha had official reopened yesterday.
The security at Sebha has been in doubt since bloody clashes broke out in February 2014 between Tebus and Awlad Suleiman tribesman. This fighting caused the evacuation of the last foreign contractors in the region, including Turks who had been working on an upgrade of the airport terminal.
However it was not until January this year that Sebha was deemed too risky for further civilian flights. Travellers turned instead the airport at Obari, some 175 kilometres away. That airport is also now also closed because of fighting between Tebu and Tuareg tribesmen, which has been flaring up regularly over the last eight months.
It is uncertain who was responsible for this morning’s RPG attack. It is also unclear if the LCCA has now withdrawn its clearance for Sebha to resume accepting flights.