March 30, 2023

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Deadly fighting in Libyan capital calls for peace

At least one civilian was killed and several others injured in violent clashes between armed groups in the Libyan capital Tripoli from Friday night into Saturday, raising fears of a new war.

Fighting with heavy and light weapons erupted overnight in several neighborhoods of Tripoli (west) against a backdrop of political chaos with two rival governments.

According to an AFP journalist, bursts of gunfire and explosions rang out throughout the night and fighting continued until midday on Saturday.

The Tripoli-based government blamed the clashes on a rival government camp, while “negotiations must be held to avoid bloodshed in the capital,” he said in a statement.

Osama Ali, a spokesman for the ambulance and rescue service in Tripoli, said there were “civilian injuries” without being able to give figures.

– «Threats» –

Local media say civilians were also killed, but an official figure has yet to be released.

However, the Libyan news agency Lana reported the death of actor Mustafa Baraka, who was in one of the neighborhoods at the center of the fighting. His death sparked a huge outcry on social media, where he continued to post videos.

The clashes caused extensive damage in the heart of the capital, with images posted online showing burnt-out cars and bullet-riddled buildings. According to these photos, a mosque and a private hospital caught fire.

The Tripoli-based government led by Abdelhamid Dibeba has accused Prime Minister Fathi Bachaka, a rival in central Sirte, of “carrying out his threats” to seize the city.

Since his appointment by the Parliamentary Session in the East in February, Mr. Bachaka tried unsuccessfully to enter Tripoli to consolidate his power, and recently threatened to use force to achieve this. He did not immediately respond to Tripoli’s accusations.

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Mr. Bachaka has

As the head of an interim government, Mr. Dipiba promises to hand over power only to an elected government.

– “related to” –

Tensions have risen in Tripoli in recent months between armed groups loyal to one or the other of the rival leaders. On July 22, 16 people, including civilians, were killed and around 50 injured in the fighting.

The U.S. Embassy in Libya said, “The United States is deeply concerned about the violent clashes in Tripoli.

The UN embassy in Libya said it was “deeply concerned” about “clashes in civilian neighborhoods (…)” and called for an “immediate cessation of hostilities”.

The government in Tripoli was born out of a process sponsored by the UN in early 2020, with the main objective of organizing elections last December, but postponed indefinitely due to strong differences over the legal basis of the referendum.

Libya descended into chaos after an uprising that led to the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011. In eleven years, the North African country has gone through more than a dozen governments, seen two civil wars and failed to hold presidential elections.