Heavy gunfire breaks out in Libya's capital as rivals clash

Fighting between two rival groups ends in heavy gunfire in Libyan capital, witnesses say

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Destroyed buildings are pictured after clashes between military forces loyal to Libya's eastern government backed by the locals, and the Shura Council of Libyan Revolutionaries, an alliance of former anti-Gaddafi rebels in Libya on March 19, 2016.

The Libyan capital Tripoli witnessed heavy gunfire on Saturday after two rival armed groups clashed in the city over the killing of one of their fighters, a local security source and witnesses said.

The fighting took place in Zawiyat Addahmani's Alfirqa Assadisah, or the Sixth Team Security brigade, and Bab Azizziya's Salah al Burki brigade in Camp 77, a security source said. It was not immediately clear which groups were involved.

Several cars were burning in the streets, before the capital later returned to calm, witnesses said. Black smoke rose over the area and military vehicles were seen patrolling through streets nearby. However, there were no immediate reports of casualties.

The violence illustrated the complex security situation in Tripoli where some quasi-official groups operate as law enforcement and armed forces in Tripoli controlling different districts and clashes sometimes occur over territory or personal disputes.

Libya is in chaos with two rival factions struggling for control, one in Tripoli and the other to the east, each running their own government.

A United Nations-brokered government of national unity based for now in Tunis is negotiating to enter Tripoli in an effort to end the conflict.

With no national army, each faction is backed by loose coalitions of former rebels who five years ago fought together to topple Muammar Gaddafi but have since fallen into internecine fighting.

Tripoli's self-declared government and several of the armed factions in the city have rejected the UN-backed presidential council and warned them to stay away from the capital.

Tripoli has been under control of an armed alliance called Libya Dawn since 2014, when its forces drove rivals out of the city to set up their own government and reinstated the former parliament as part of power struggle for control.

TRTWorld, Reuters