At least 23 people were killed and 140 wounded in fighting between militias that erupted overnight in Tripoli from Friday to Saturday, a new official report said, amid political chaos with two rival governments.
Clashes erupted between rival militias in several neighborhoods of Tripoli (west), where gunfire and shelling erupted throughout Saturday night.
An eerie silence prevailed in the city during the night from Saturday to Sunday. Tripoli’s head of government, Abdelhamid Dibeba, appeared in a video, flanked by his guards, saluting the fighters who flanked him.
The new clashes are unprecedented since the failed June 2020 bid by eastern strongman Marshal Khalifa Haftar to take the capital militarily at the height of the civil war that followed the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. 2011.
The health minister announced that six hospitals had been affected by the strikes, which left 23 dead and 140 injured.
The clashes caused extensive damage, according to an AFP journalist who saw dozens of burnt-out cars and buildings riddled with bullets or set on fire.
Tripoli’s streets were deserted for most of the day, while gray smoke rose into the sky.
The Tripoli-based government has temporarily replaced rival Prime Minister Fathi Bachaka in Sirte (center) and Mr. It accused Haftar of wanting to “follow through on his threats” to take over the city.
Mr. Bachaka’s media office accused the Tripoli government of “clinging to power” despite being “illegitimate” for him. “War in urban areas has its own logic, it harms civilian infrastructure and people, so even if it is not prolonged, this conflict will be very destructive,” analyzed for AFP, Emetdin Badi, a researcher at the Global Initiative think tank.
Since his appointment by the Parliamentary Session in the East in February, Mr. Bachaka has tried unsuccessfully to enter Tripoli to consolidate his power and has recently threatened to use force.
As the head of an interim government, Mr. Dibeba has repeatedly promised to hand over power only to a government that emerges from the ballot box.
Tensions have risen in Tripoli in recent months between armed groups loyal to one or the other of the two leaders. Last month, 16 people, including civilians, were killed and around 50 injured in the fighting.
The US embassy in Tripoli said it was “extremely concerning”, while the UN in Libya said it was “deeply concerned”. The mission condemned “clashes in civilian neighborhoods (…)” and called for an “immediate ceasefire”.
The government in Tripoli was born in early 2020 with UN funding, with the main objective of organizing elections last December, but was postponed indefinitely due to strong differences over the legal basis of the referendum and the presence of controversial candidates. Precisely MM. Dipiba, Bachaka and Haftar.
Libya descended into chaos after the uprising that toppled the Gaddafi regime in 2011.
In eleven years, the oil-rich but fractious North African nation has seen a dozen governments, two civil wars and failed to hold presidential elections.
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