Shootings and explosions break out in the Libyan capital


TRIPOLI, Aug 27 (Reuters) – Intense fighting erupted in the Libyan capital overnight and lasted until Saturday morning, with rival factions exchanging heavy fire and the sound of several loud explosions ricocheting through the city.

The clashes took place in downtown Tripoli after one of the capital’s strongest groups attacked the base of a rival force, witnesses said, resulting in hours of gunfire that terrified residents and raised fears of a wider escalation.

It was unclear whether the fighting was directly linked to Libya’s broader political stalemate over control of the government, but any clash between powerful groups in Tripoli could risk drawing in other factions.

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“It’s horrible. My family and I couldn’t sleep because of the clashes. The noise was too loud and too scary,” said Abdulmenam Salem, a resident of central Tripoli. “We stayed awake in case we had to leave quickly. It’s a terrible feeling.”

The main armed forces supporting each side in Libya’s political conflict have repeatedly mobilized around Tripoli in recent weeks, with large convoys of military vehicles moving through the city and threatening to use force to achieve their objectives.

A man was killed in the shooting, two medical sources and a friend of his told Reuters. Images and videos shared online from the city center, which Reuters could not immediately verify, showed military vehicles speeding through the streets, fighters firing and local residents trying to put out lights. fires.

Ali, a 23-year-old student who declined to give his last name, said he fled his apartment with his family overnight after bullets hit their building. “We couldn’t stay and survive anymore,” he added.

There was no immediate comment from the interior and health ministries on the fighting, which broke off in the morning before resuming. The University of Tripoli announced that it was suspending classes due to the fighting.

The main Libyan standoff pits the national unity government in Tripoli under Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah against a rival administration under Fathi Bashagha, which is backed by the east-based parliament.

The United Nations mission in the country warned this week against any attempt to resolve the dispute through violence.

Bashagha attempted to enter Tripoli in May, resulting in an hour-long shootout that forced him to leave. He recently indicated that he might try to enter the capital again.

This week, factions supporting Dbeibah marched around Tripoli in a show of force, saying they would not allow Bashagha in.

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Reporting by Ahmed Elumami; Additional reporting by Ayman al-Warfali and Hani Amara; Written by Angus McDowall; Assembly Pravin Char

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