News24

Prisoner swap settles Libya militia fight

2012-01-16 19:00

Gharyan - Rival Libyan militias who for two days clashed bitterly in towns south of Tripoli have settled their deadly dispute through a prisoner swap, a military official told AFP on Monday.

"Last night [Sunday] we carried out a prisoner swap... since then, the fighting has stopped," said Colonel Ahmed Omar Ibrahim al-Fakhi of the Gharyan military council.

"We had captured around 24 fighters from Assaba. They had captured four of our men. We exchanged the prisoners in Gharyan," he added.

Doctor Ibrahim al-Karim, deputy head of central Gharyan hospital, said four people were killed and more than 50 wounded in the clashes between the rival militias, which first erupted on Friday.

Witnesses said the fighting broke out after a man from Gharyan was stabbed and stripped naked in a vegetable market that lies between the adjacent towns of Assaba and Gharyan, approximately 80km south of Tripoli.

Fighters of The Martyrs Brigade of Gharyan said they came under fire from an Assaba militia while setting up a checkpoint in the area. Intense fighting involving rocket and machine gun fire ensued.

"The people who attacked us from Assaba are loyalists of Muammar Gaddafi," said Mohammed al-Matati, a Gharyan fighter receiving treatment for burn wounds at the hospital.