At least 23 people have been killed and 87 injured in Tripoli as tensions between rival political groups erupted into street combat on Saturday. The United Nations has called for an immediate ceasefire. U.S. ambassador Richard Norland urged rival parties to agree to an early date for elections, and to reduce tensions "before things get worse."
Though Libya has been a disaster ever since Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama teamed up with NATO to facilitate regime change in 2011, the last two years have been relatively calm. That calm ended Saturday as combatants fired small arms, heavy machine guns, mortars and other heavy weapons. Explosions occurred in various sectors of Tripoli -- the country's capital -- and smoke drifted across the skyline.
Two groups are contending for rule over Libya: The Government of National Unity (GNU), which is led by Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, and a rival group led by Fathi Bashagha, the former interior minister. Bashagha has the support of Libya's eastern parliament, which is based in Tobruk. In essence, this is a battle of two rival prime ministers and two rival governments.
Citing Saudi al-Arabiya TV, VOA reports:
Incoming Prime Minister Fathi Bashagha, who was named earlier this year by the country's eastern-based parliament, asked outgoing Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah to "leave the capital," while Dbeibah responded that he was "too busy dealing with the country's business."
Last week, Bashagha urged "Libyan men of honor" to withdraw their backing of Dbeibah's "obsolete and illegitimate" government. Meanwhile, Dbeibah, who was appointed to his post last year pursuant to a UN-brokered peace process, has declared he won't relinquish power until elections are held.
According to BBC, Saturday's fighting broke out when a convoy of Bashagha-backing militia was challenged by GNU forces. Reuters elaborates that in the afternoon, militia forces seemed to be closing in on the city from three directions. A witness says one of the convoys was 300 vehicles strong, but had turned back toward its Misrata base.
Fighting is reportedly concentrated in a densely-populated, three-square-kilometer area near the center of Tripoli. Some hospitals were reportedly struck amid what the UN's Libya mission characterized as "indiscriminate medium and heavy shelling in civilian-populated neighborhoods." According to the Libya's health ministry, 17 of the dead are civilians.
Though we can't confirm their authenticity, purported videos of the hostilities have circulated on social media:
Here are 4 tweets explaining how the latest battle in #Tripoli could turn into Libya’s next civil war— Anas El Gomati (@AGomati) August 27, 2022
This moment captures the trauma of another horrible war as children flee gunfire. pic.twitter.com/AvtrepBqkD
In Tripoli, the house of the commander of the an-Nawasi group, Mustafa Kaddoura, who supports Fathi Bashagha, was blown up. Libya pic.twitter.com/Cg3yCG8fvw— IntelSky (@Intel_Sky) August 27, 2022
BREAKING: According to the Libyan Ministry of Health, 23 people were killed and 150 were injured in clashes between rival militias in Tripoli, Libya's capital, on Saturday. pic.twitter.com/F5gooBRA4K— BNN Newsroom (@BNNBreaking) August 28, 2022
🇱🇾In the capital of Libya, 11 years after the overthrow and murder of the "bloody dictator Muammar Gaddafi", there are regular battles between gangs of different "democrat groups" who continue ravage and pillage the country(or what's left of it) unfortunately... pic.twitter.com/KsUmkpadaa— AZ 🛰🌏🌍🌎 (@AZmilitary1) August 27, 2022
🇱🇾☠️87 people were injured and 12 people were killed d̵u̵r̵i̵n̵g̵ ̵t̵h̵e̵ ̵o̵n̵g̵o̵i̵n̵g̵ ̵a̵r̵m̵e̵d̵ ̵c̵l̵a̵s̵h̵e̵s̵ after democracy was brought in Tripoli today - reports the Ministry of Health of Libya— AZ 🛰🌏🌍🌎 (@AZmilitary1) August 27, 2022
''Freedom and democracy'' explained in one video... pic.twitter.com/oqt11XKIsL
🇱🇾The fighting in Tripoli continues. According to preliminary data, as a result of the clashes, 23 people were killed and about 100 people were injured.— AZ 🛰🌏🌍🌎 (@AZmilitary1) August 27, 2022
Effects of bringing ''freedom and democracy'' to Libya can be seen more and more lately... pic.twitter.com/VE46qmFbhQ
Dueybi's supporters took control of one of the military installations in Tripoli, and fighting for control of the city continues. And never Forget #Libya has been in turmoil since 2011 NATO-backed coup ousted the nation’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi, who was later murdered pic.twitter.com/qVBfXs050Y— www.anoncandanga.com (@anon_candanga) August 27, 2022