First Published: 2012-01-03

 

Ex-rebels’ war for money, power: Fierce clashes erupt in Tripoli

 

Gun fight erupts in central Tripoli, killing two, as ex-rebels from Misrata clash with unit of ex-fighters from Libyan capital.

 

Middle East Online

By Jay Deshmukh – TRIPOLI

Who will prevail first?

A gun fight erupted in central Tripoli on Tuesday, killing two, as a group of former rebels from the western city of Misrata clashed with a unit of ex-fighters from the Libyan capital, witnesses said.

The two groups of former rebels who helped topple the regime of slain leader Moamer Gathafi traded anti-aircraft and heavy machinegun fire as they fought in broad daylight in a Tripoli neighbourhood.

The fighting broke out between Al-Zawiyah and Al-Saidi streets near a building used as intelligence headquarters by the former regime.

Reporters saw the building and the entire neighbourhood surrounded by hundreds of rebels who ousted Gathafi, several of them armed with Kalashnikovs, amid steady gunfire.

Massud al-Khadar, a member of a militia from the neighbourhood, said: "Two of our (fighters) were killed in the clashes which began this morning."

He said the violence started when a rival militia from Misrata attacked his group based near the former intelligence building.

Ex-rebels, who remain organised in militia brigades, are visible in many parts of the capital, and some have taken control of former government buildings to use as headquarters.

But witnesses said earlier that forces linked to the new government's interior ministry may have tried to retake the intelligence building on Tuesday, provoking a clash with the militia group occupying it.

Those reports could not be independently verified, and the interior ministry declined to comment, saying it would comment on the clashes later Tuesday.

Sources saw militiamen had blocked traffic from reaching the building, even as ambulances tried to access the area, with witnesses reporting a number of injuries.

Many gunmen could also be seen circulating in the area and the situation remained chaotic.

A vehicle belonging to a former rebel group based in the area and equipped with a microphone and loudspeakers was touring the neighbourhood's streets, urging residents who are not armed to leave.

The presence of armed militia groups in Tripoli is one of the biggest challenges facing the new Libyan rulers.

These groups, several of them from outside Tripoli, fought Gathafi's forces while liberating the capital in August. Since then, they have stayed put in the city and refused to return to their home towns.

In the absence of proper security forces, these militias are offering security on the streets of Tripoli. Powerful militias from Misrata and towns such as Zintan, southwest of Tripoli, are even guarding key installations in the capital.

Tripoli residents, however, have been protesting against their presence, saying it has actually raised security concerns in the capital.

Several militia commanders have said their fighters would leave Tripoli only when a new national army is formed.

Prime Minister Abel Rahim al-Kib has acknowledged the issue as a "complex" one, saying tens of thousands of the former rebels would be integrated into the security forces.

 

Iran sees Syria talks as opportunity to gain influence

Arab Israelis strike in protest over house demolitions

Explosions in Gaza target Fatah member

UN expert tells Saudi to end ban on women driving

More than 20 firefighters feared dead in Tehran building collapse

Trump to retain envoy to anti-IS coalition

Desalination plant opens in Gaza to tackle water crisis

Syria’s Assad hopes rebels disarm after Astana talks

UN says 400,000 Syrian child refugees in Turkey not in school

Libya PM skips Davos to focus on electricity crisis

Greece, Cyprus insist peace deal must include Turkish withdrawal

Mistura to lead UN delegation at Astana Syria talks

Turkey slams French satire song about Istanbul attack

Saudi minister says kingdom to become ‘softer’ after reforms

Bahrain lifts ban on electronic Al-Wasat newspaper

Kuwait upholds sentence for three royals for insulting judges

Tunisia facing mounting calls against jail-for-joint law

Iran's oldest high-rise building on fire collapses

IMF says Egypt on track for next aid tranche

Bahrain police disperse Shiite protesters

Key Syria rebel group opts out of Astana peace talks

Moroccan Sufi ‘living master’ dies at 95

France says Iraqi jihadist among 2015 stadium bombers

Russia, Turkey stage first joint air strikes against IS in Syria

IS advances on terrified citizens of Syria’s Deir Ezzor

In path to greater executive power, Erdogan faces weak Turkey economy

Switzerland drops war crimes case against former Algerian defence minister

Patience wears thin in Iraq's Fallujah

Iraq forces 'liberate' eastern Mosul

New UN chief stresses importance of Syria peace talks

Istanbul nightclub attacker 'received orders from IS'

Turkish border officials refuse entry to NYT reporter

Fatah, Hamas agree to form unity government

Syria war forces elderly to take shelter in retirement homes

Snowden’s stay in Russia extended by two years

Palestinian home demolitions spark deadly violence

East Syria clashes continue between IS, regime forces

Syrian general, 8 soldiers killed in tunnel blast

Florida airport shooter ‘inspired’ by IS jiahdists

US-led coalition warplanes hit IS near Syria's Al-Bab

Iran opposes US joining Syria talks

Turkey snubs UN hearing on detained Rwanda genocide judge

Rouhani calls for end to Saudi ‘interference’ across region

Saudi says China rise source of global stability not conflict

Lengthy drought leaves Somalia with serious famine risk