Serraj condemns indiscriminate attack on Mitiga airport
By Sami Zaptia.
London, 24 April 2018:
Faiez Serraj, head of the Presidential Council condemned last week’s attack on the Mitiga airport and vowed to pursue the those responsible.
The condemnation came through his personal spokesperson Mohamed El-Sallak at yesterday’s press conference. Serraj had also condemned the indiscriminate firing of missiles that had endangered the lives of civilians and damaged state property. Unconfirmed Libyan media reports had said one aircraft suffered some damage.
Sallak added that the Serraj holds those armed elements that commit such acts fully responsible and warns them that they will be criminally prosecuted, domestically and internationally.
Sallak reported that proceedings had already begun and a committee of the Ministries of Justice and the Interior had been established in cooperation with the Attorney-General’s Office which will work to deal with this matter ‘‘resolutely and with all available means’’.
Serraj’s personal spokesperson did not name any militia or militia leader, however speculation puts the blame for the attack on Bashir Khalfalla ”al-Bugra” (”the cow”) and his 33rd Infantry Brigade.
Bugra, from Misrata, is known to support form Libya Dawn “prime minister” Khalifa Ghwell, the Libyan Fighting Group, and to be deeply opposed to both Rada and Haithem Tajouri. His forces, though, have some support in Suq Al-Juma and Tajoura.
It will be recalled that on 15 January the Faiez Serraj led Presidency Council (PC) was forced to declare a local state of emergency around Tripoli’s Mitiga airport after a coalition of militias aligned to it successfully repelled an attack on the airport compound.
The attack was carried out by about 50 armed vehicles of the 33rd Infantry Brigade. The 33rd Infantry Brigade was a militia recognised by the PC’s Ministry of Defence.
They were seeking to free some prisoners from the jail housed within the Mitiga compound. The prisoners are currently detained by the pro-PC Rada (Special Deterrence Force), which controls the area around Mitiga and the airport itself.
Bugra’s militia had been pushed back to the outskirts of Tajoura where they were being pursued. Rada spokesman Ahmed Ben Salem had told Libya Herald that three planes had been damaged. Some homes near the airport also sustained damage.
In a statement at the time, the PC had decried the attack and said it was an attempt to release ‘‘terrorists…such as IS and Al-Qaeda and others’’ from detention. The others could include members of the BDB and Benghazi Shura Council. They had criticised spoiler efforts to endanger the stability of Tripoli and the Libyan political transition process. The PC had applauded the cohesion of the forces supporting it in responding to the threat by the Bugra militia.
Bugra, who receives backing from Tajoura, is known to support former Libya Dawn “prime minister” Khalifa Ghwell and the former LFG, and to be deeply opposed to both Rada and Haithem Tajuri. In December, Bugra launched a similar attack on Mitiga, albeit with minimal casualties.
In a later decree, the PC announced that it had dissolved Bugra’s 33rd Infantry Brigade and ordered all its equipment and ammunition be transfered to the General Staff.
In October 2017, Mitiga airport was briefly closed after clashes between Rada and armed youth from the Ghararat area of Suq Al-Juma.