Libyan capital rocked by gunfire, explosions

Members of the Libyan emergency services extinguish burning rubble on May 21, 2014 following an explosion at a carpet factory the previous evening in the Sallaheddin neighbourhood of the capital Tripoli. (AFP)

At least two people were killed when heavy fighting erupted near the Libyan capital of Tripoli on Wednesday, two days after gunmen stormed parliament in some of the city's worst violence since the 2011 war.

Residents reported several loud explosions near the al-Yarmouk barracks in the Salaheddin district. Gunfire and explosions later appeared to die down.

liby afp

liby afp


Heavy fighting involving anti-aircraft batteries also broke out near an army camp in Tajoura, an eastern suburb. "We're hearing really loud explosions and gunshots near the camp, but we don't know who is shooting," a Tajoura resident said.

It was unclear who was involved in the latest violence, which killed at least two people from Mali, a health ministry source said. Other parts of the capital appeared to be quiet.

In addition, Libya's top naval commander, General Hasssan Abu Shanaq, survived an assassination attempt by unknown gunmen as he was travelling to work, a spokesman for the chief of staff said.

In the eastern city of Benghazi , gunmen killed a Chinese engineer on Tuesday after kidnapping him from his worksite and then dumping his body, according to a security source in the eastern city.

The engineer was one of three colleagues at a Chinese construction company who were all abducted from a worksite on Wednesday, according to China's official press agency, XinHua. He was later found shot and died in hospital, XinHua reported. His two colleagues were released.

Members of the Libyan emergency services extinguish burning vehicles on May 21, 2014 following an explosion at a carpet factory the previous evening in the Sallaheddin neighbourhood of the capital Tripoli.

Members of the Libyan emergency services extinguish burning vehicles on May 21, 2014 following an explosion at a carpet factory the previous evening in the Sallaheddin neighbourhood of the capital Tripoli.



Militants around Benghazi have targeted foreigners in the past, including an attack on the U.S. consulate in 2012 in which U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died.

Since Libya's 2011 war ended Muammar Gaddafi's one-man rule, the country's new institutions have struggled to gain popular backing and to make progress towards full democracy. But the central government has been unable to control the brigades and militias who helped to topple Gaddafi. They are now defying state authority to make their own demands.

Tripoli has been calmer in the past two days, after militiamen stormed the General National Congress (GNC), Libya's parliament, on Sunday and fought for six hours with other armed groups on the airport road. The militiamen claimed loyalty to former army general Khalifa Haftar.

On Friday, Haftar started what he called a military campaign against Islamist militants in Benghazi in the east. He also later claimed responsibility for the attack on parliament in Tripoli.

Several military units have joined him, threatening to split the nascent regular forces and network of different militia. The militia are rivals for influence and are loosely aligned on opposing sides with Islamist and anti-Islamist political forces.

Western governments are concerned Libya's instability may worsen and spill over into its North African neighbors, who are still emerging from the political unrest following the 2011 Arab Spring revolts.
 

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Last Update: 10:52 KSA 13:52 - GMT 10:52
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