VIDEO: Fighting Intensified In Libya’s Capital Tripoli
Tanks and convoys of militiamen streamed into the streets, and witnesses reported gunfire in southern, central, and western districts in Tripoli, Reuters reports.
The sides are split between rival militias vying for control of the city: one has its origins in Tripoli, while the other side is led by forces originally from the western city of Misrata and has Islamist leanings loyal to grand mufti Sadek Al-Ghariani, former Tripoli “prime minster” Khalifa Ghwell and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), Libya Herald reports.
Black smoke billowed into the sky while blasts rang across the capital and residents were asked to remain home.
Libya sank into lawlessness and divisions after the downfall of the longtime dictator adhafi in 2011.
Tripoli is experiencing a state of tension and alert between armed groups deployed in the city for several weeks now. The friction between these groups has grown considerably due to the recent escalation of killings and kidnapping in the capital.
Intensive fighting continuous in Tripoli on Friday in number of areas of the city.
While casualty figures are unknown, a number of civilians are said to have been killed in Abu Sleem.
There the local militia headed by local Abdul Ghani Al-Kikli (also known as Ghneiwa) were involved in fighting against a number of Misratan and other units supporting Ghwell. Seven bodies were reported to have been taken to the neighboring Hadba hospital.
Clashes have also reported around the Rixos hotel complex, home to the former General National Congress which Ghwell and his supporters have held for the past month.
A convoy belonging to Haithem Tajouri’s Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigades (TRB), which is in alliance with Ghneiwa and the RADA (“Deterrence”) forces led by Abdul Raouf Kara, was seen during the day heading towards the complex in what is thought to have been a bid to eject the hardliners.
Also during the day, armoured vehicles were seen heading from Ain Zara to central Tripoli. Other armoured vehicles were seen in central Tripoli’s Shara Ennasr while one tank was deployed to the Sidi Masri roundabout and another under the elevated section of the airport road, next to Abu Sleem.
Ghneiwa’s forces claimed the clashes started when a unit tried to take over the zoo, which is opposite Abu Sleem and where he keeps his armoured vehicles. It borders both Bab Ben Gashir and Bab Al-Aziziya.
In fact, it appears that it was Ghneiwa’s forces that tried to seize Camp 77 next to Bab Al-Aziziya and which has been in the hands of the hardliners for some time.
An explosion of violence in Tripoli has been widely expected as a result of intensifying animosity between the various armed factions in the city following the revelation last week that a senior imam linked to Ghariani, Sheikh Nadir Al-Omrani, had been murdered.
It has brought into sharp focus the divisions between the Ghariani/Ghwell/Benghazi and Misratan radicals on the one side and the RADA/Ghneiwa/TRB alliance on the other. The former tried to link RADA to the killing.
In a move that may have triggered today’s action by RADA, the TRB and Ghneiwa, Ghwell’s predecessor as Tripoli “prime minister”, Omar Hassi, announced yesterday that a “supreme council of revolutionaries” was being set up to take over running the country.