Libya clashes: civilians killed as armed groups fight in central Tripoli

Fighting begins amid political stand-off for control of Libya's government

Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Clashes between rival factions in Tripoli, Libya's capital, have caused civilian deaths, the Health Ministry said on Saturday.

The ministry said on Sunday that 32 people were killed and 159 wounded during the fighting between rival armed groups, which began over Friday night and continued into Saturday, setting buildings on fire and damaging hospitals.

The ministry earlier said it was receiving pleas from residents trapped by the fighting for safe corridors to get out of the area.

Members of the municipal council in Tripoli have called for calm after deadly clashes broke out on Saturday.

Armed groups have gathered around the capital in recent weeks amid a political stand-off for control of Libya's government.

Pictures and a video shared online showed military vehicles speeding through the streets, fighters shooting and residents trying to douse fires.

“This is horrible. My family and I could not sleep because of the clashes,” Abdulmenam Salem, a resident of central Tripoli, told Reuters.

"The sound was too loud and too frightening. We stayed awake in case we had to leave quickly. It's a terrible feeling.”

The Health Ministry of the Government of National Unity asked for donations of all blood types to save the lives of those injured in the clashes.

News agency Lana said actor Mustafa Baraka had been killed in one of the neighbourhoods hit by fighting, sparking anger and mourning on social media.

The UN Support Mission in Libya said it was “deeply concerned” about armed clashes, including indiscriminate medium and heavy shelling of neighbourhoods in Tripoli.

“The UN calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities and reminds all parties of their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law to protect civilians and civilian objects,” the mission said on Twitter.

It demanded that all parties refrain from using any form of hate speech and incitement to violence.

The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation condemned the violence and called on all parties "to immediately halt military operations, preserve the safety of civilians, government headquarters and property".

The US embassy in Tripoli said Washington was “very concerned about violent clashes in Tripoli, with reports of civilian casualties and property destruction”.

“We stand with the Libyan people in calling for peaceful dialogue,” the embassy said.

On Saturday, US ambassador to Libya Richard Norland said he met the head of Libya's Presidential Council Mohammed Al Menfi on Friday, and they discussed the importance of avoiding violent clashes in Tripoli and the need for de-escalation.

“We agreed on the urgent need to finalise a constitutional basis and move towards elections, and also on the importance of taking steps to enhance transparency and accountability in the management of Libyan oil revenue,” Mr Norland said on Twitter.

Libya has been racked by conflict since a Nato-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.

The main Libyan stand-off pits the Government of National Unity in Tripoli under Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah against a rival administration under Fathi Bashagha, which is backed by the eastern-based Parliament.

The UN mission in the country gave a warning this week against any attempt to resolve the dispute through violence.

Updated: August 29, 2022, 5:17 AM