Libya: two dead in militia guerrilla warfare last night

Gunfights and grenade launches, the capital in chaos

08 November, 13:35

    Libya: one dead in militia guerrilla warfare last night Libya: one dead in militia guerrilla warfare last night

    (ANSAmed) - ROME/TRIPOLI - Groups of rival militias last night engaged in intense gunfights in the center of the Libyan capital, plunging it into chaos.

    At least two persons were killed and dozens were wounded, including a woman, medical sources said. Anti-aircraft rockets and grenades were launched as people abandoned their cars in the middle of downtown streets and fled on foot, eyewitnesses told ANSAmed.

    People soon realized that what they initially thought were fireworks were live bullets whizzing by in full-blown ''urban guerrilla warfare'', eyewitnesses said.

    Gunfire went on past midnight near a district housing the foreign ministry, State TV headquarters, and the Radisson Hotel, which is frequented by foreigners and where French diplomats are currently staying.

    Formed during the spring 2011 uprising that toppled the regime of Muammar Gaddafi, the militias are made up of former rebels. Hailed as heroes in 2011, they were subsequently paid by the central government to act as semi-official security forces.

    The government, which has since lost control of them, yesterday announced it is suspending militia wages as of January 2014.

    Last night's attack could be a response to the government measure, or it could have been revenge for the death a combatant in a gunfight earlier this week.

    A heavily armed group of militias, perhaps from the city of Misrata, entered the capital and attacked the eastern Suq al-Juma district, security sources said.

    Militias shouting ''God is great'' in Arabic sped near the foreign ministry in a Toyota equipped with anti-aircraft weapons, Reuters news agency reported.

    Rival militias engaged in protracted gunfights in the same area on the night between Monday and Tuesday, leaving at least one person dead and wounding several more.

    Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino told Repubblica TV early on Friday that Libya ''is absolutely out of control''. Italian energy giant ENI ''is threatening to shut down its (oil) wells, but sending the army in seems like a difficult proposition: a political solution is needed'', Bonino stated.


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