BENGHAZI: Heavily armed Libyan militias clashed in Tripoli , killing at least 20 people and forcing the capital’s only airport to close, officials said.

The Health Ministry said another 63 people were wounded in the fighting between two militias that are ostensibly allied with the internationally-backed government, underscoring the lingering instability in the country seven years after a popular uprising toppled long-ruling dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Civilians were among the dead, including an airline employee who was trying to get home after Matiga airport shut down.

An airport official said staffers were evacuated from Matiga airport and that five flights have been cancelled. A picture posted on the airport’s Facebook page showed a passenger plane with its roof blown off.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the press.

The Special Deterrent Force, a militia which controls the airport, was fighting a rival militia led by local strongman Bashir al-Baqara.

Both are allied with the internationally recognised government in Tripoli.

Special Deterrent Force spokesman Ahmed bin Salem said four of his men were killed. He said the situation is now under control, and that a number of the attackers were arrested while trying to storm the prison.

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