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Tripoli prison escape: 400 inmates 'including ex-Gaddafi thugs' break out of jail during fighting in the Libyan capital

Heavy conflict between rival groups has raged for a week in city's south

Monday 03 September 2018 08:51 BST

Amid fierce fighting in Libya’s capital Tripoli, hundreds of prisoners have escaped from a jail that housed supporters of the country's slain former leader Muammar Gaddafi.

About 400 detainees “forced open the doors” at the Ain Zara prison on Sunday and guards were unable to stop them, a judiciary official said in a statement posted to social media.

The jail housed common criminals and supporters of the late Colonel Gaddafi, who was killed following a Nato-backed uprising in 2011. Some of those supporters had been convicted of killings during that conflict, the Agence France-Presse news agency reported.

The prison is located in southern Tripoli, an area which has suffered heavy fighting between rival groups for the last week. The UN, which supports Libya’s current government, called for the warring parties to meet on Tuesday.

Separately, a missile fell on the al-Fallah camp for displaced Tawergha people on Sunday, killing two and wounding seven including two children, according to Emad Ergeha, an activist following Tawergha issues.

The Tawergha were made to leave their settlement near the western city of Misrata during the 2011 uprising and have since been prevented from returning.

Ergeha, who is a Tawergha, posted online a video of firefighters extinguishing a blaze and showing severe damage to steel containers in the camp.

On Saturday, a rocket struck the Waddan hotel in central Tripoli, near the Italian embassy. Three people were hurt, staff said.

And the state oil firm NOC confirmed one of its diesel depots, used to supply a power station, had been hit by a rocket.

Fierce clashes erupted last week between the Seventh Brigade, or Kaniyat, from Tarhouna, a town 40 miles south-east of Tripoli, against the Tripoli Revolutionaries’ Brigades and the Nawasi, two of the capital’s largest armed groups.

The UN-backed government based in Tripoli declared a state of emergency in the capital “given the seriousness of the current situation”.

Although the government is formally in charge, it does not control the capital where armed groups are allied to it but operate with autonomy, often motivated by money and power.

To end the fighting the UN mission in Libya called on the “various concerned parties” to meet on Tuesday noon for an “urgent dialogue on the security situation”.

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