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.

 

Essebsi claims victory in Tunisia presidential poll

Barzani in Mount Sinjar after end of jihadist siege

U-turn: Qatar pledges 'full support' to Sisi's Egypt

UAE blames 'irresponsible' non-OPEC output for oil price plunge

Turkey TV regulator fines popular show over ‘dance with foreigners’

Berlin seeks to set up trauma centre for IS rape victims

Syria claims downing of Israeli reconnaissance drone

Rafah border crossing reopens for two days

Israel parliament approves funding for settler tourism plan

Five jihadists killed in clashes with Egypt police

Coalition targets ‘Islamic State’ in areas north of Aleppo

Libya Islamist-backed government urges foreigners to return to Tripoli

Palestinians enter Egypt as Rafah crossing reopens for two days

Davutoglu accuses EU of 'dirty campaign' against Turkey

Raid on terrorists accidentally kills Saudi youth in Awamiya town

Egypt sentences ‘spy for Israel’ to ten years in prison

Jordan ends eight-year moratorium on death penalty

Egypt President removes powerful spy chief

Tunisia votes for president in final leg of democratic transition

Turkey acquits sociologist over 1998 explosion

EU foreign affairs head to visit Iraq

Turkey court remands Samanyolu TV chief in custody

IS threatens to kill Lebanese soldiers held hostage

Obama concerned about Egypt mass trials

Tough times for oil-rich GCC

Tumbling oil prices cut budgets of Mideast arms exporters

Iraq’s peshmerga ‘break’ Mount Sinjar siege

Turkish media chiefs charged with terrorism

Iraq may delay payment of Kuwait war reparations

Over $900 million needed to help Syria children

Saudi rules out oil output reduction

Dutch populist lawmaker to be tried for 'fewer Moroccans' vow

Outrage in Algeria over Islamist call for Algerian author's death

Iraq Kurds, coalition launch offensive to retake Sinjar

Three years to end Israeli occupation in UN resolution

Yemen’s Huthis seize Sanaa state offices

Somalia appoints new PM after bitter infighting

Blow to Israel: EU court removes Hamas from terror blacklist

Sharp rise in Syria passport applications

Turkey FM visit to Iran highlights Syria divide

UK troops mistreated Iraq detainees in 2004

Saudi to carry on massive public spending

Iran to Australia: We warned you about the gunman

From bikini to Jihad in Ceuta, Melilla

Tunisia votes Sunday in second round of presidential poll