Heavy fighting broke out in the Libyan capital on Friday night and into Saturday, with rival factions exchanging gunfire with several loud explosions heard throughout the city.
Witnesses said the clashes erupted in downtown Tripoli amid a political crisis over control of the Libyan government that has seen armed groups increasingly mass around the capital in recent weeks.
Photos and videos circulating on the Internet of the city center showed military vehicles speeding through the streets, fighters shooting, and local residents trying to put out fires.
On Saturday, militias loyal to the Prime Minister-designate of Parliament, Fathi Bashagha, began advancing towards the center of Tripoli, after taking control of the gate located west of the capital, while militias affiliated with the Prime Minister of the Government of National Unity, Abdel Hamid Dabaiba, announced the general mobilization, in a move that predicts the outbreak of an armed clash on power.
Local sources said that the “Forsan Janzour” militia succeeded in repelling the advance of the militias loyal to Bashaga towards the center of the capital, while a huge military convoy of dozens of armed vehicles belonging to Bashaga was seen heading from the city of Misurata towards the capital, Tripoli, and the militias affiliated with “Major General Osama al-Juwaili” moved Supporting Bashagha, south of the capital, Tripoli.
Meanwhile, the” joint operations force ” loyal to Dabaiba issued an appeal via “Misrata radio” to all its members to join their headquarters in full military equipment, prepare and announce the state of mobilization.
The mayor of Tripoli municipality Ibrahim al-Shibli said that” the situation is tragic ” in the areas of Zawiya Street, Sidi Khalifa and Bab bin Ghashir.
Libyan medical sources said at least 12 people were killed in the clashes, and confirmed that the number of wounded rose to 87, noting that the injuries are between moderate and light.
The Libyan ambulance and Emergency Service said that clashes in Tripoli prevent assistance to civilians, and counting the wounded is difficult because of the clashes. It called for the opening of all branches of the device from Tajoura to the central region. It demanded a truce to open safe corridors in Tripoli.
For its part, the Tripoli municipality called on the international community to protect civilians in the Libyan capital, and held the Houses of Representatives, the High Council of State, the Presidential Council, and the two governments responsible for the deterioration of the situation.
The United States has expressed “concern” about the violent clashes in Tripoli, with reports of civilian casualties and destruction of property.
The US embassy in Libya said on Saturday: “We stand with the Libyan people in calling for peaceful dialogue.”
For its part, the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) expressed its deep concern about the ongoing armed clashes in Tripoli.
The UNSMIL has called for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Tripoli.