Rival militias battle in Libyan capital

2012-02-01 22:33

Tripoli - A gun battle between rival militias erupted in the Libyan capital on Wednesday, illustrating how Libya's new rulers have so far failed to put their stamp on their country and bring it under control.

No one was hurt in the bizarre stand-off. Witnesses say remnants of fighting groups from the towns of Misrata and Zintan faced off in down town Tripoli over control of a sports complex on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

The two sides fired rifles and heavy machine guns, witnesses said, but mostly in the air, shattering the complex's windows and damaging a number of nearby cars.

After about an hour, Tripoli's high security council, which is under the Interior Ministry, blocked off the area and took control of the building.

The skirmish was part of a larger battle between the two groups over control of sensitive spots like the airport. The Misrata brigade had been camped out in the sports complex and the Zintan brigade tried to take it from them, witnesses said.

Brigades from both cities played key roles in the bloody eight-month civil war that ended with the capture and killing of Muammar Gaddafi in October, but they have since refused to submit to the new authorities.

Since the overthrow of Gaddafi's regime last year, Libya's new leaders have struggled to impose their authority on the vast country of 6 million people.

One of the greatest challenges still facing the leadership is how to rein in the dozens of revolutionary militias that arose during the war and now are reluctant to disband or give up their weapons.

The government has started a programme to encourage the militiamen to turn in their arms in exchange for benefits like education and jobs, but it has not put an end to the almost constant clashes involving rival groups.

Also, forces loyal to the deposed regime have been attacking troops from the new regime, adding another layer of chaos.

  • mnbain - 2012-02-02 05:59

    Well done, Nato! You failed to recognise that Ghadafi unified far more people than he allegedly suppressed. This region will be unstable for a long time now. Prior to the Nato assisted coup the country with the highest standard of living in africa, is now a mess.

      Anthony - 2012-02-02 08:16

      @Mnbain, Sadly for you; The by far majority of Libyans don't agree with you!!! They know they got a long tough road to go, before there will be stability and peace, but they are sooooo happy to be rid of: that corrupt ruthless criminal gaddafi family, They will get what they want, and they have let us know clearly, they don't need Africa for this. They are now very aware, who their friends are and who their enemies. Even the Chinese are better friends to them, than the Africans. They don't come with some half baked pseudo intellectual BS, telling them what is better for them , and what not !!

      Anthony - 2012-02-02 09:07

      But in the meantime, while the Libyans are trying to get some normality and peace in their country, the ones with their disturbed and misplaced anti Western comments, can't resist to spew their crap anmd insults to the Libyan people. Shame on you !!!!

      Anthony - 2012-02-02 10:49

      "You failed to recognise that Ghadafi unified far more people than he allegedly suppressed." Your comment is soo pathetically childish. Let's be honest; You don't give a damn about the Libyan people!!! You just USE them !!!

      Anthony - 2012-02-02 17:44

      @Patrick, Yea, the life for the Libyans was soooo good, that they went unarmed onto the streets, demanding of this criminal gaddafi family, to get the heck out of Libya, with real risk of being killed by these THUGS !!!!!!!!

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