The battles that broke out on Friday in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, between armed groups and continued on Saturday, resulted in deaths, raising fears of a new war in a country already plunged into chaos under the presence of two opposing governments.
Clashes with heavy and light weapons broke out overnight in several city neighborhoods in western Libya, but relative calm prevailed on Saturday night, according to an AFP correspondent.
Abdel Hamid al-Dabaiba, the head of the Libyan unity government in Tripoli, posted a video showing him among his guards greeting fighters loyal to him.
And local media reported that a coalition of armed groups loyal to Fathi Bashagha, the head of the rival government of the Tripoli government, had returned after he had headed to the capital from Misurata, two hundred kilometers to the east.
The battles have taken place on an unprecedented scale since the failed attempt by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the strongman of eastern Libya, to militarily invade the capital in June 2020, at the height of the civil war that followed the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. in 2011.
Six hospitals were damaged as a result of the bombing, while ambulances were unable to reach the combat zones, according to the Ministry of Health, which announced a new balance of 23 dead and 140 wounded.
The Dabaiba government blamed the rival government for the clashes, “after it became involved in negotiations to avoid bloodshed in the capital,” according to a statement.
The clashes left heavy damage in the heart of the capital, according to images posted on social media of charred cars and bullet-marked buildings.
The Dabaiba government accused rival Prime Minister Fathi Bashagha, based in the city of Sirte, of carrying out “what he announced… threatening to use force to attack the city.”
Bashagha’s media office responded, accusing the Tripoli government of “clinging (…) to power”, considering it a “usurper of legitimacy”. He denied what was said in the unity government statement about the Bashagha government’s refusal to negotiate with him.
For his part, Dabaiba, who heads the transitional government, stressed that he will hand over power only to an elected government.
Tensions between armed factions loyal to rival leaders have risen in recent months in Tripoli. On July 22, the battles claimed the lives of 16 people, including civilians, and injured fifty more.
“The United States is deeply concerned about the violent clashes in Tripoli,” the US Embassy in Libya wrote in a tweet, while the United Nations Support Mission in Libya called for an “immediate cessation of hostilities.”
These clashes reflect the chaos in Libya since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011. The division in Libya is exacerbated by the presence of two opposing governments, the first in Tripoli arising from a political agreement a year and a half ago, headed by Abdel Hamid Dabaiba.