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13 people were killed in a clash between armed groups in the Libyan capital

#people #killed #clash #armed #groups #Libyan #capital

At least 13 people have been killed in fighting that flared up overnight between armed groups in Tripoli, emergency services said on Friday, the latest violence to hit the Libyan capital amid months of rising political tensions.

Fighting broke out in a park area after midnight, sowing terror among Tripoli residents looking to cool off after hot summer days.

Dozens of people were forced to seek refuge on the campus of Tripoli University and a nearby medical center.

During the fighting, “13 people were killed, including three civilians, including an 11-year-old child, and 30 were injured,” the rescue service told the Libya al-Ahrar news channel.

The clashes took place between two powerful armed groups in the west of the war-torn country: the Al-Radaa Force and the Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade.

On Friday, another group called 444 Brigade intervened to negotiate a ceasefire by stationing their own forces in a buffer zone before also coming under heavy fire, an AFP photographer reported.

Images posted to social media showed dozens of vehicles abandoned with their doors open in the middle of the road by drivers fleeing the violence.

The trigger for the recent fighting could not be immediately verified, although the groups clashed on June 10 and killed one combatant.

– First civilian deaths since 2020 –

Tensions in Libya have been rising for months as two prime ministers vie for power and raise fears of renewed conflict, two years after a landmark ceasefire ended a ruinous attempt by eastern military chief Khalifa Haftar to take Tripoli by force.

The dead were the first civilian casualties from fighting in Tripoli since the 2020 ceasefire.

The fighting has trapped hundreds of women attending weddings in the area, including Maisa bin Issa and her sisters.

“Thank God the ambulance came and saved us, otherwise we would have been stuck in the wedding hall in Ayn Zara, miles from our home in the city center,” she said.

“It was really scary with the bombs and gunshots.”

Local resident Mokhtar al-Mahmoudi said he and his family spent the night in the basement. “Our children are still afraid,” he said.

Malek al-Badri said he used his phone to avoid main roads and find his way to his mother’s house.

“Tripoli will never find peace again as long as all these armed groups are here,” he said.

Dozens of students were trapped in dormitories until they were rescued, Ambulance Service director Osama Ali told Al-Ahrar.

Libya has been gripped by insecurity since a NATO-backed insurgency toppled and killed dictator Muamer Gaddafi in 2011, leaving a power vacuum that armed groups have been struggling to fill for years.

Both groups involved in this week’s fighting are nominally loyal to Abdulhamid Dbeibah’s national unity government, appointed last year as part of a United Nations-backed peace process to end more than a decade of violence in oil-rich Libya.

Dbeibah has refused to cede power to Fathi Bashagha, who was appointed prime minister by a parliament in eastern Libya in February after striking a pact with Haftar.

The fighting forced the capital’s only functioning airport, Mitiga, to close until further notice.

The United Nations mission in Libya, UNSMIL, said it had received reports of civilian casualties and called for an investigation.

“Any action that endangers the lives of civilians is unacceptable,” it said in a tweet, calling on “all Libyans to do everything possible to preserve the country’s fragile stability at this sensitive time.”

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