Twenty-seven people have been killed and more are feared dead in clashes between militias in Libya's capital that trapped residents in their homes on Tuesday, according to reports.
More than 100 people were injured in the fighting in Tripoli, Libya's Emergency Medicine and Support Centre, a medical body that responds to humanitarian disasters and wars, said.
It was unclear how many of the dead were militiamen or civilians. The Red Crescent did not respond to a request for comment.
The clashes erupted late on Monday between militiamen from the 444 Brigade and the Special Deterrence Force, according to local media reports.
Tensions flared after Mahmoud Hamza, a senior commander of the brigade, was allegedly detained by the rival group at an airport in Tripoli, the reports said.
Throughout the fighting on Tuesday, the Health Ministry urged the warring sides to allow ambulance and emergency teams to enter the affected areas, primarily in the south of the city, and for blood to be sent to nearby hospitals.
The fighting was the fiercest seen in the capital this year. Inbound flights were diverted to the nearby city of Misurata, Opsgroup, an organisation for the aviation industry, said.
The escalation follows months of relative peace after nearly a decade of civil war in Libya, where two rival authorities are locked in a political stalemate.
Long-standing divisions have sparked several incidents of violence in Tripoli in recent years, although most of them ended in a matter of hours.
Libya’s rival administrations condemned the fighting in separate statements on Tuesday. The House of Representatives, which is based in the eastern city of Benghazi, blamed the Tripoli-based government for the violence.
In a statement, the UN mission in Libya said it was following with concern “the security incidents and developments” and called for an immediate end to the clashes.
The UAE also expressed its concern and called on all parties to cease hostilities and resolve disputes through dialogue.
In a statement, Minister of State Khalifa Al Marar reaffirmed the UAE’s support for efforts to strengthen security, stability and unity in Libya under internationally mediated agreements, leading to the holding of elections.
The US called for an “immediate de-escalation in order to sustain recent Libyan gains towards stability and elections,” the American embassy said.
Since 2014, Libya has been divided between rival administrations in the east and the West, each supported by an array of well-armed militias and different foreign governments.
The oil-rich North African nation has been in a state of upheaval since a 2011 Nato-backed uprising toppled and later killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi.