First Published: 2012-11-04

 

Rival Libya militias turn streets of Tripoli into battlefield

 

State-sanctioned militias fire guns, rocket-propelled grenades at each in Libyan capital, due to dispute over detained member of one of armed groups.

 

Middle East Online

By Ghaith Shennib - TRIPOLI

Strong militias, powerless police

Rival state-sanctioned Libyan militias fired guns and rocket-propelled grenades at each in the Libyan capital on Sunday, leaving the police powerless to protect locals.

At least five people were wounded and a stray bullet entered a hospital, causing panic and increasing concerns about Libya's precarious security situation a year after the ouster of Moammar Gathafi.

By early afternoon the headquarters of a Supreme Security Committee (SSC) militia, a body set up last year to try to regulate armed groups, was in flames and being looted by members of a rival militia faction, witnesses said. Local shops were also looted.

The fight erupted just after midnight due to a dispute over a detained member of one of the armed groups, residents in the southern district of Sidi Khalifa said.

Both militias are affiliated to the SSC, an umbrella group for various armed groups that refused to join the official police or army, saying they were still run by Gathafi loyalists.

Civilians blocked the street where the fighting raged to prevent cars from entering the battleground where the sound of gunfire rang out. Many civilians went home to get their own arms.

"We called the police early in the morning to help us stop the shooting, but no one came," resident Khaled Mohamed said.

A stray bullet caused panic at the nearby Tripoli Central Hospital, sending doctors and nurses running for cover. Dr. Khaled Ben Nour said five casualties had been brought in.

"We have real patients with real needs. These rogue militias need to leave us in peace so we can do our jobs," Ben Nour said.

SSC members at the scene said that the SSC headquarters - a former intelligence building - had been occupied by one particular militia belonging called Support Unite No. 8 led by Mohamed al-Warfali.

A group of rival militias - also belonging to the SCC - fired at the building from a former post office.

"Mohamed al-Warfali and his lawless group of men have occupied the SSC building and refuse to come out," said m ilitia member Mohamed al-Himrazy who accused Warfali's group of breaking SSC rules.

The SSC, run and paid for by the Interior Ministry, is much better armed that the official police. The ministry has repeatedly promised to disarm the militias but has yet to do so, to the disgust of many Libyans.

"The government needs to find a solution for this security mess," said resident Khaled Ahmed.

"It's been two years since the revolution and there is still no security. They either need to find a solution or we take to the streets again."

Apart from draining public finances, the SSC has also become a security headache. SSC members have been involved in kidnappings and intimidation across the country.

About 2 km (1.2 mile) from the gun battle, elected members of the General National Congress were debating whether their location should be changed to a different city because of recurrent attacks on their building.

The GNC grounds and building have been stormed on several occasions by protesters or armed militias unhappy with the formation of the government or other policies.

Security wasn't only tenuous in the capital on Sunday.

A car bomb exploded on Sunday in front of a police station in Benghazi, injuring three police officers in the latest in a series of attacks on security officials in Libya's largest city.

The front of the central Hadayeq police station was charred and blackened with smoke. The entrance to the station was completely damaged, with glass strewn on the street and firefighters putting out a damaged police car that was on fire.

A photographer saw three policemen receive first aid for small injuries in front of the station. Officials at the scene said there were no deaths.

 

Concern and grief as Britain remembers 2005 terror bombings

Iran nuclear talks: Will Ministers score diplomatic success?

Deadly US raids target ISIS stronghold in Syria

After Tunisia beach massacre, tourists switch to other destinations

Near Gaza Strip, Israelis live in fear behind concrete walls

Tunisia declares state of emergency after beach massacre

Erdogan moots possibility of snap election

Coalitions of Syria rebels battle regime forces in Aleppo

Lawlessness in Libya poses real danger for Tunisia

Hezbollah backs Syria army in major assault on border city

Syria mosque explosion kills at least 25 Nusra fighters

Egypt President in Sinai after jihadist attacks on security forces

Yemen Huthi rebels ‘attack’ various areas in Saudi Arabia

No guarantee of success as Iran nuclear talks inch closer to lasting deal

Egypt ‘in state of war’ on second anniversary of Islamist ouster

Ansar al-Sharia denies killing of Abu Iyadh in US air strike

Rockets from Sinai strike Israel

Palestinians arrest 100 Hamas members in West Bank

Erdogan inaugurates public mosque in palace

Islamists form alliance in battle for Aleppo

Top Tunisian jihadist reportedly killed by US strike in Libya

Emir attends joint Shiite, Sunni prayers in Kuwait

Hamas denies involvement in Sinai attacks

4 Qaeda suspects killed in US drone attack in Yemen

'Series of errors' behind Air Algerie crash in Mali

Ankara has no plans for imminent intervention in Syria

21 killed in clashes, strikes in Yemen's Aden

GCC states vow united stand against IS mosque bombings

Palestinians protest one year after teenager burned alive

Egypt vows to wipe out 'dens of terror'

Tunisia arrests eight in connection with beach massacre

Youth in Tunisia 'ripe for radicalisation'

UN sends mission to 'assess' South Sudan atrocities

Syria urges citizens to enlist

AQAP step up campaign to eradicate qat

Iraq Christians train for jihad against IS

British FM: 'No breakthrough yet' in Iran nuclear talks

UN imposes first sanctions on six South Sudan generals

Libya rival governments will not return to peace talks

Fighting rages in Yemen’s Aden

Egypt government adopts anti-terror law

Kurds warn Turkey against any ‘aggression’ in Syria

Kuwait makes DNA tests mandatory after suicide bombing

Kuwait parliament approves deficit budget on oil slide

Pro-Erdogan candidate becomes new speaker of Turkey parliament