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Libya: Misrata militias besiege Tripoli suburb

The latest violence follows the deaths of at least 45 people in Tripoli last night

Published: Updated:

Armed groups from the Libyan city of Misrata clashed in an eastern Tripoli suburb on Saturday, Libyan government officials said in a press conference.

Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said the Libyan city of Tajoura was under seige by militias from Misrata, known to be home to one of the most powerful armed groups in the country.

The news followed violence that erupted at an anti-militia protest on Friday in Tripoli. At least 45 people were and 400 wounded, Justice Minister Salah al-Marghani said.

Zeidan denounced the killing of protesters. “The demonstration was peaceful and had been permitted by the Interior Ministry, and then the protesters were fired on when they entered the Gharghur district,” he said.

Libya’s turmoil and the weakness of its border controls are worrying its North African neighbors. France this week said it was considering offering more counter-terrorism training and aid to help Libya prevent militancy spilling over its frontiers.

French intervention in neighboring Mali this year drove some Islamist militants with links to al-Qaeda across the border into Libya’s lawless southern deserts, where the central government has little or no say.

So far, the capital has been spared the almost daily bombings and killings that plague Libya’s second city, Benghazi, in the east. But when clashes between rival militias do break out, the nascent armed forces are no match for them.

The Misrata gunmen had fought twice last week with a rival group that had detained one of their members for driving a car without number plates.

(With Reuters and AFP)