Libya declares state of emergency

Libyan militias involved in deadly violence have been ordered to leave Tripoli

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A 48-hour state of emergency was declared in the Libyan capital of Tripoli in the early hours of Sunday, after deadly violence broke out between armed groups.

Militias from the Libyan city of Misrata clashed in an eastern Tripoli suburb on Saturday, Libyan government officials said in a press conference. At least one person was killed and dozens wounded in the fighting.

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

He demanded that all militias "without exception" who fired on civilians leave the Libyan capital.

"The armed manifestations and bullying on the state with the weapons that were seized during the revolution (against former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi) is unaccepted by the people,” Zeidan said.

The violence followed a deadly protest against armed groups on Friday night, where at least 45 people were killed and 400 wounded.

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.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry condemned the violence and urged restraint in a statement issued by the State Department.

"We are deeply concerned by the death and injury of many Libyans in recent clashes in Tripoli," Kerry said in a statement. "We condemn the use of violence in all its forms and urge all sides to exercise restraint and restore calm."

Libya has seen a surge in unrest as former rebels who helped topple Qaddafi’s regime have scoffed at government demands to lay down their arms.

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.

Meanwhile, Libya’s deputy intelligence chief has become the latest official to be targeted.

Mustafa Noah, the head of the agency’s espionage unit, was kidnapped from Tripoli airport on Sunday after he returned on a flight from Turkey, Reuters reported two security sources as saying.

Noah was pulled into a car as he left the airport, one of the security sources added. He had no bodyguards with him at the time.

This is not the first time a Libyan official was abducted by militia men. The prime minister himself was kidnapped but was shortly released last month.

(With AFP and Reuters)

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