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Militias patrolled nearly deserted streets in Libya’s capital Sunday, a day after clashes killed over 30 people.
Militia patrolled nearly deserted streets in Libya’s capital on Sunday, a day after clashes killed more than 30 people and ended months of relative calm in Tripoli.
At least 17 civilians were among the dead, local authorities said. pitted militias loyal to the Tripoli-based government against other armed groups allied to a rival government that has been trying to gain a foothold in the capital for months at the high points of the longstanding conflict in Libya.
Libya has been in chaos since a NATO-backed insurgency toppled and killed dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
The oil-rich county has for years been divided between rival administrations, each backed by rebel militias and foreign governments.
The current deadlock came as December’s elections were not held and Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah refused to step down. In response, the country’s eastern parliament has appointed a rival prime minister, Fathy Bashagha, who has been trying to install her government in Tripoli for months.
Saturday’s fighting was concentrated in the densely populated city center and included heavy artillery. Hundreds were trapped and hospitals, government and residential buildings were damaged. burned vehicles were seen scattered in the area of the collision.
At least 32 people were killed and 159 injured in the clashes,
according to the Ministry of Health. Michele Servadei, the UNICEF representative in Libya, said among the dead were a 17-year-old boy and four other 5-year-olds. years were injured in the clashes.
Among those killed was Mustafa Baraka, a comedian known for his social media videos mocking militias and corruption. He was reportedly shot dead during a social media livestream. It was unclear if he was the target.
The Associated Press spoke to dozens of residents and witnesses. They told horrifying scenes of people including women and children trapped in their homes, government buildings and hospitals.
They also spoke of at least three bodies lying motionless on the street for hours before an ambulance could reach the area. They asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals from the militias. “We see death before our eyes. and in the eyes of our children,” said a woman trapped in an apartment with many families. “The world should protect these innocent children as they did in Gaddafi’s day.
Tripoli-based militias allied with Dbeibah were seen on the streets of the capital early Sunday. According to local media, his rivals were stationed at their positions on the outskirts. Much of the city suffered power outages overnight.
Several companies closed on Sunday and the state-owned National Oil Corp. has ordered its employees to work remotely on Sunday.
Residents were still weary of the potential violence and most stayed home on Sunday. Many rushed to supermarkets as fighting subsided on Saturday night to stock up on groceries and other necessities. Others were seen inspecting their businesses, homes and damaged vehicles.”
It could start immediately. They (the militias) are not controlled,” said a schoolteacher from Tripoli, who only mentioned part of the name of Abu Salim.
“Our demand is very simple: a normal life. The Dbeibah government claimed the fighting began when a member of a rival militia fired on a patrol of another militia on Zawiya Street in Tripoli.
He said the shooting came amid a mobilization by groups allied with Bashagha in the capital. The claim could not be independently verified. Clashes between militias are not uncommon in Tripoli.
At least 13 people were killed in militia fighting last month. In May, Bashagha attempted to install his government in Tripoli, leading to clashes that ended with his withdrawal from the city.