Militias fight gun battles in Tripoli

2013-11-05 23:22
Gunmen demanded the Libyan government's resignation as they besieged ministries. (Mahmud Turkia, AFP)

Gunmen demanded the Libyan government's resignation as they besieged ministries. (Mahmud Turkia, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Tripoli - Libyan militia fighters on the government payroll fought each other with rifles, grenades and anti-aircraft weapons on the streets of Tripoli on Tuesday in the worst clashes in the capital in weeks.

No one was killed, but the fighting underlined how Libya's government is finding it harder to contain former fighters and Islamist militants in a country awash with weapons two years after Muammar Gaddafi's fall.

Strikes and armed protests by militias and tribal gunmen demanding payments or political rights have shut much of the OPEC member's oil output for months and deprived the government of its key source of income.

Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has sought to co-opt militias that helped to topple Gaddafi by integrating them and their weapons from the Nato-backed revolt into the nascent army and police. But in practice, most continue to report to their commanders or tribes.

Tuesday's fighting broke out just after midnight in Tripoli's eastern Suq al-Juma district and a central coastal area, where a Reuters witness saw two burned out pick-ups belonging to a militia on the government payroll.

A senior security official said three people had been wounded, among them the head of a militia from the central city of Misrata who was critically wounded.

Shooting started after members of one militia paid by the government to help secure Tripoli stopped a car without plates and detained the driver, the official said. He was brought to a security office in Suq al-Juma but later released after he proved the car belonged to him.

Angered about the detention, the car owner returned with members of a rival militia, who came back to the checkpoint in four to five cars. An ensuing exchange of gunfire spread to other parts of Tripoli.

Reuters reporters could hear rocket-propelled grenades and heavy anti-aircraft guns being fired throughout the night. The situation calmed down after daybreak, though occasional rifle shots could still be heard in the morning.

Security fragile

Fighting between militias is often about personal arguments, control of local areas, stolen cars or smuggled goods such as drugs or alcohol that are banned in Libya.

Tripoli has largely been spared the assassinations and bombings that happen almost daily in the eastern city of Benghazi, but security in the capital remains fragile.

Several embassies have been attacked, and last month a group of former rebels briefly kidnapped Zeidan from a Tripoli hotel before other militiamen freed him hours later.

Dozens of people demonstrated and burned tyres on Monday night in Benghazi in protest against the deteriorating security situation after the recent killing of an intelligence officer and his young daughter in a bomb attack, residents said.

Many people in eastern Libya and its main city, Benghazi, demand autonomy from Tripoli and a greater share of oil wealth, accusing Zeidan's government for abandoning their region.

On Sunday, an autonomy movement launched a shadow government for the east, a move that changes little on the ground but will worsen ties with the weak central government.

Read more on:    libya  |  north africa

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now! - shop online today

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

As seen on TV - New book releases at only R199 each

Get mind blowing book savings on new titles. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to 50% on Women’s month treats!

Celebrate the awesome women in your life with awesome treats like beauty products, fashion accessories, bestselling books, electronics and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


• Cultivate your intuitive powers – intuition and insight are emphasized today. The focus is still on organisation more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.