At least 23 dead in the fighting in the Libyan capital

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At least 23 dead in the fighting in the Libyan capital

Clashes between rival paramilitary groups raged overnight and throughout the day yesterday in districts of Tripoli (west).

Fighting between armed groups that broke out Friday night into Saturday in Tripoli, amid political chaos and the conflict between the two governments vying for power, killed at least 23 people and injured 140 others, according to the latest official account.

Clashes between rival paramilitary groups raged overnight and throughout the day yesterday in districts of Tripoli (west). There were bursts of automatic weapons and shelling.

An uneasy calm reigned over the city on the night of Saturday into Sunday. The head of Tripoli’s government, Abdulhamid Dbayba, appeared on video, flanked by his bodyguards, greeting fighters who sided with him.

The new clashes are unprecedented in scope following the failure in June 2020 of a campaign by eastern Libyan strongman Major General Khalifa Haftar to take the capital militarily at the height of the civil strife that followed the fall of Colonel Muammar’s regime Gaddafi in 2011.

Six hospitals were hit, the health ministry said, releasing the latest casualty count of 23 dead and 140 injured.

“Threats”

The clashes caused extensive damage, said an AFP journalist who saw dozens of charred cars, bullet-riddled buildings or torched.

The streets of Tripoli were almost deserted for most of the day yesterday, while plumes of grayish smoke rose into the sky.

The Tripoli-based government accused rival Prime Minister Fathi Batsaga, who is temporarily based in Sirte (central Libya) and is backed by Mr Haftar, of wanting to “carry out his threats” to take over the city.

Mr. Batsaga’s information service, for its part, accused the government in Tripoli of “hanging on to power” even though it is “illegal”, as it sees it.

“War in an urban environment has its own logic, it is destructive both to political infrastructure and to people, and even if it is short-lived, this conflict will be extremely destructive,” researcher Emandedin Bundy told AFP. of the Global Initiative studies center.

After being named in February by the parliament based in eastern Libya, Mr Batsaga has been trying unsuccessfully to enter Tripoli and take power, having recently threatened to resort to violence.

Mr. Dbayba, head of the transitional government, has said countless times that he will hand over power only to a government that will be elected by the polls.

“Worry”

Tensions between armed groups loyal to one side and the other have been escalating for months in Tripoli. In the past month, fighting has killed 16 people, including civilians, and injured around fifty others.

The US embassy in Tripoli expressed its “great concern”, while the UN mission in Libya called for an “immediate end to hostilities”, complaining that “clashes (…) are taking place in areas where civilians live”.

The Tripoli-based government was born in early 2020, following a UN-backed process, with the main mission of organizing elections in December 2021, but these were postponed indefinitely due to insurmountable disputes over the legal basis of those votes and of the very controversial nominations, such as those of Mr. Dbayba, Batsaga and Haftar.

Libya remains mired in chaos after the uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011.

In eleven years, the north African state, rich in hydrocarbons but undermined by foreign intervention, has seen the passing of a dozen governments, two civil wars and has never been able to organize a presidential election.

RES-EMP

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