Tunisia closes airspace to western Libya for security reasons

TUNIS – Tunisia has again closed its airspace for flights from western Libya, an official said on Tuesday, just days after allowing Libyan planes from Tripoli back for the first time in around six months.

“We’ve suspended temporarily again Libya flights for security reasons,” the transport ministry official said, without elaborating.

The moves come after militants killed 20 foreign tourists in an attack on the national museum in Tunis last week. Tunisian officials say the two gunmen had been trained at a jihadist camp in Libya, where Islamic State has made inroads.

Tunisia is worried violence will spill over from Libya, where two rival governments fight for control four years after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi.

Libyan airlines had been allowed only since last week to resume flights to Tunis from Tripoli and other airports in western Libya outside the control of the official government.

The internationally recognized administration has been based in the east since losing control of Tripoli in August when an armed group seized the capital and parts of western Libya.

Flights from Tunis to eastern Libya have never stopped.

Tunisia is the lifeline for many Libyans seeking to escape violence or travel abroad. Foreign airlines and embassies have mostly withdrawn from Libya for security reasons. The few foreign connections from Libyan airlines are often booked out for weeks.