Libya: Exchanges of fire and explosions in Tripoli amid political confrontation

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Heavy firefights erupted in the Libyan capital Tripoli overnight and continued into the day, with rival political forces exchanging heavy fire and the sound of several powerful explosions echoing across the city.

The clashes took place in central Tripoli when one of the capital’s most powerful groups launched an attack on a rival force’s base, witnesses said, sparking an hours-long firefight that terrified residents and sparked fears of a wider escalation.

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The Tripoli-based Government of National Unity and a rival administration backed by the parliament based in the eastern part of the country have traded accusations over the clashes as fears of a wider conflict grow.

Any clashes between Tripoli’s powerful factions risk involving other factions, and today’s exchange of fire lasted longer than any other outbreak of violence in the city in recent months.

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The UN mission in the country warned this week against any attempt to resolve the dispute through violence.

Armed forces supporting each side of Libya’s political conflict have repeatedly mobilized around Tripoli in recent weeks, with convoys of military vehicles driving around the city and threatening to use violence to achieve their goals.

At least two people, a man and a woman, were killed in the shootout, according to medical sources.

Images and videos released on social media from the city center, which Reuters has so far been unable to verify, show military vehicles speeding through streets, gunmen opening fire and residents trying to put out fires. .

The Interior and Health ministries have not yet commented on the shooting, which stopped early in the morning before resuming later. The University of Tripoli announced the suspension of classes due to the fire.

Two rival governments have been vying for power in Libya since March: one based in Tripoli, led by Abdelhamid Dbeiba, and the other, led by Fathi Bashaga, supported by the Tobruk parliament and Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the strongman in eastern Libya. . The presidential and parliamentary elections originally scheduled for December 2021 have been postponed indefinitely.

A statement from the Government of National Unity said the latest clashes in Tripoli began when fighters allied to Bashaga fired on a motorcade in the capital while other units close to Bashaga were massing outside the city. He accused Bashaga of withdrawing from talks to resolve the crisis.

Bashaga’s administration said in a statement that it had never rejected talks and that its own ‘overtures’ were rejected by Dbeiba. He did not directly respond to the allegation that he was linked to the clashes.

Both Dmeiba and Bashaga have tried to curry favor with international public opinion by making promises to maintain peace and accusing each other of using violence in the pursuit of power.

Bashaga tried to enter Tripoli in May, sparking an hours-long firefight that forced him to flee. He recently stated that he may try to re-enter the capital.

This week groups supporting Dbeiba marched around Tripoli in a show of force, saying they would not allow Bashaga to enter the city.

Source: Capital

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