Gunbattles erupt in Tripoli

 

Tripoli, Libya

Gunbattles shut down a neighborhood of central Tripoli on Sunday, as militias loyal to the government battled another militia that they said had gone rogue.

The clashes, which included the exchange of machine-gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades, underscored the shakiness of Libya's security even within the confines of the capital, where the country's security forces are headquartered.

A year after the fall of autocrat Moammar Gadhafi, rebels-turned-militias continue to dominate the country's quest for security. Libya's fledgling police force is mostly unarmed and lacks training and resources, local officials said. And the Libyan army is almost nonexistent; the chief of staff is a lame duck, according to Tripoli's top militia commanders.

Clashes broke out in Tripoli's Bab Bin Ghashir neighborhood Saturday night after residents said they confronted the Support Unit No. 8 militia for allegedly abducting and torturing two area residents.

"The problem is that the revolutionaries still think they're revolutionaries, not employees who march to orders," said Mohamed Abu Shkiwa, an official in the Tripoli Supreme Security Committee (SSC), a powerful union of militias that runs most of the capital's security operations and was leading the assault on the rogue militia. Shkiwa said the group had been under the SSC's umbrella until commanders revoked its "legitimacy" Sunday.

Bystanders watched Sunday afternoon as government-allied fighters and police personnel exchanged periodic machine-gun fire with the Support Unit No. 8 militia, which was holed up in one of the former regime's intelligence headquarters.

Plainclothes SSC fighters armed with Kalashnikov rifles and rocket-propelled grenades blocked side streets in the neighborhood and paced alongside trucks, radioing instructions.

Shkiwa said his forces knew of three people injured in the clashes. Residents said they thought the son of the rogue militia commander Mohamed Warfalli had been killed.

By late afternoon, SSC fighters had set fire to the militia's building and residents reported looting in the area, according to the Reuters news agency.

Meanwhile, the General National Congress, the country's only elected body, carried on with its first session of the week, debating plans to inaugurate a new cabinet, seemingly oblivious of the clashes about a mile away.

The absence of a centralized security force and a clear chain of command has left Tripoli and other Libyan cities at the mercy of their most powerful militias. Most of them claim loyalty to the government, but officials in Tripoli have said that they have little control over the militias.

The security vacuum also has hindered national efforts to investigate an attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi in September that left Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans dead.

In that eastern city, where residents say security conditions are markedly worse than in Tripoli, a car bomb exploded in front of a police station early Sunday, injuring three, according to Reuters. No group asserted responsibility for the attack.

Meanwhile, SSC commanders in Tripoli said their forces had not previously gone after rogue militias because they did not want to set former revolutionaries against their peers.

"We feel so sad if we kill any revolutionaries, because they are revolutionaries who were with us from the very beginning," said Saad Garsallah, a high-ranking SSC commander.

---

Ayman al-Kekly contributed to this report.

Suggested Topics
News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam