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Libya’s Benghazi airport re-opens after 3-year closure

Benghazi’s international airport (Benina) has officially reopened for commercial flights amid a heavy security presence after a three-year closure. The airport had been closed due to fighting in the city in the summer of 2014.

According to Reuters, the first outward bound flights from Benina Airport on Saturday were to the capital, Tripoli, to Amman, Jordan, and to the south-eastern Libyan city of Kufra. Other flights are also scheduled to and from Tunis, Istanbul, Alexandria, and the western Libyan city of Zintan.

The flights are operated by two state-owned companies, Libyan Airlines and Afriqiyah Airways.

Benina is just east of Benghazi, Libya’s second biggest city, where fighting escalated in the summer of 2014 when forces loyal to eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar launched a military campaign against Islamist militias and other opponents.

Earlier this month, General Haftar announced the “total liberation” of Benghazi after his forces battled rivals in their last downtown holdouts.

“After a continuous struggle against terrorism and its agents that lasted more than three years… we announce to you the liberation of Benghazi from terrorism,” he said in a speech at the time.

Libya descended into chaos following the 2011 civil war that toppled and killed Muammar Gaddafi. The oil-rich nation is now split between rival governments and militias.

Felix Dappah with Reuters

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