About 52 People Injured, 16 Killed in Militia Clashes in Libya
Following the most recent politically motivated violence to strike the Libyan capital, the health ministry said on Saturday that at least 16 people were killed and 52 were injured in fighting between armed factions in Tripoli.
Fighting broke out on Thursday night and continued into Friday. Violence broke out in Misrata, Libya’s third city, on Saturday, forcing the US embassy to issue a warning about the possibility of a bigger flare-up.
Both of the competing prime ministers trying to lead what is left of a central government are from Misrata.
According to Libyan media, the fighting involved militias loyal to the unity government of Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah and his competitor Fathi Bashagha, who was chosen by a parliament located in the country’s east in February.
Richard Norland, the US envoy, urged all political players and the armed organizations that back them to cease fire in order to prevent an escalation.
He said in a tweet that the fighting in Misrata today “show the dangerous risk that the recent violence will grow.”
Armed attempts to challenge or uphold the political status quo run the risk of returning Libya to a time that its people believed had passed.
The Al-Radaa force and the Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade, two armed factions with significant influence in the west of the country’s war-torn territory, engaged in fighting in Tripoli.
According to numerous sources, the battle, which spread to several neighborhoods of the capital, was started when one faction detained a warrior who belonged to the other.
The 444 Brigade, another organization that intervened to mediate a ceasefire on Friday, deployed its own troops in a buffer zone before they too came under heavy fire, according to an AFP photographer.
Since the NATO-backed uprising that overthrew and killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011 left a power vacuum that armed groups have been squabbling to fill for years, Libya has been engulfed in insecurity.
Two years after a historic cease-fire stopped a disastrous effort by the eastern military chief Khalifa Haftar to seize Tripoli by force, tensions in Libya have been increasing for months as the competing prime ministers square off, raising worries of a new round of fighting.
Since the 2020 ceasefire, the fatalities were the first civilians killed in fighting in Tripoli.
Both sides in the conflict in Tripoli claim allegiance to Dbeibah’s Government of National Unity, which was established last year as part of a peace process supported by the UN.
Bashagha was appointed prime minister after striking a deal with Haftar, but Dbeibah has refused to hand over control to him.