The fighting, which broke out overnight from Friday to Saturday August 27 in Tripoli, left at least 23 dead and 140 injured, according to a new official report. Six hospitals in the capital have been affected by the fighting which has raised fears of a new war in Libya, which is already torn between two rival governments.
Clashes between rival militias, armed with light and heavy weapons, erupted in several neighborhoods of Tripoli (West) where gunfire and shooting echoed throughout the night. They continued on Saturday night, reaching new neighborhoods, said a journalist from Agence France-Presse (AFP).
But local media claim that an alliance of militias in favor of Fathi Bachagha, head of the rival government in Tripoli, which is heading to the capital from Misrata, 200 kilometers east of Tripoli, is on its way.
The clashes caused a lot of damage, according to an AFP reporter, who saw dozens of burnt-out cars and buildings riddled with bullets or set on fire. The streets of Tripoli were almost deserted on Saturday night, except for militiamen, as columns of gray smoke rose into the sky.
These battles are on an unprecedented scale since the failure, in June 2020, of the attempt of Marshal Khalifa Haftar, a strongman in the East, to conquer the military capital, at the height of the civil war which followed the fall of Muammar. Gaddafi’s regime in 2011.
The Tripoli-based government blamed the clashes on the rival government camp, which is backed by Mr Haftar, although “Negotiations must take place to avoid bloodshed in the capital”. This government, led by Abdelhamid Dbeibah, accused the rival Prime Minister, Fathi Bachagha, temporarily based in Sirte (Centre), of “carry out his threats” to take the city.
Bachagha’s media office instead accused the Tripoli government “grip on power”who accused him of being “illegal”. He also denied any negotiations with his opponent for a deal.
The tension grew
Since his appointment, in February, to the Parliament sitting in the East, Mr. Bachagha has been trying, without success, to enter Tripoli to establish his authority there, recently threatening to use force to achieve this. Mr. Dbeibah, at the head of a transitional government, has promised several times that he will only hand over power to an elected government.
Tensions between armed groups loyal to one or the other of the two leaders have escalated in recent months in Tripoli. On July 22, the fighting left sixteen people dead, including civilians, and about fifty injured.
The American Embassy in Tripoli said “very concerned”while the UN mission in Libya called “an immediate cessation of hostilities” through criticism “fights (…) in neighborhoods inhabited by civilians”. For its part, Qatar called “all parties to avoid escalation and bloodshed and to resolve disputes through dialogue”.
The government of the area of Tripoli was born, at the beginning of 2020, from a process initiated by the UN, with the organization of elections as its main mission in December, but they were postponed. to die due to strong differences in the legal basis of ballots. Libya fell into chaos after the uprising that overthrew the Gaddafi regime in 2011. In eleven years, the North African country has seen a dozen governments pass, two civil wars, and has never been able to organizing a presidential election.