Fierce clashes in Libya kill one, injure six

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At least one person was killed and six injured when fierce clashes broke out on Saturday in the city of Zawiya in western Libya, prompting calls for a ceasefire to rescue families trapped in the conflict area, a Libyan TV channel said.

Ali Ahneesh, head of the Red Crescent branch in Zawiya, told the Istanbul-based Libya Alahrar TV channel that 10 families had been evacuated, and called for “a ceasefire to evacuate families stuck in the areas where the clashes have taken place.”

Red Crescent volunteers had been receiving calls from families in the conflict area asking to be evacuated, he said.

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There was no immediate indication of who had taken part in the violence or why they were fighting. Libya has been plagued by unrest since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Imad Ammar, a member of Zawiya’s elders and notables council, said the fighting appeared to involve individuals rather than armed groups.

Zawiya, 40 km (25 miles) west of the capital Tripoli, is home to Libya’s biggest functioning refinery, with a capacity of 120,000 barrels per day.

“The clashes in the morning were fierce, and the casualties are one killed and six injured,” Tripoli-based Ambulance and Emergency Services spokesperson Osama Ali told the TV channel.

Ali said rescue teams had been unable to reach the conflict zone, and it was not clear if the casualties were civilian or military.

Zawiya has witnessed repeated armed clashes that have at times forced the closure of the coastal road to the border with Tunisia.

Reports of unrest in the city were circulated on the internet with unverified footage of gunmen exchanging fire.

Libya’s state electricity firm (GECOL) said in a statement that the unrest had led to power cuts in some areas in the city.

“The situation was very bad in the morning. There is calm now, but the security and government authorities must use all their power to end this conflict,” said Ammar.

He said there had been no response from the city’s security authorities to what he described as “a fight between persons and not specific parties” for which civilians were paying the price.

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