Libya Clashes Kill 12, Spark Fears Of New War
Clashes between rival government supporters killed at least 12 people and damaged six hospitals in the Libyan capital on Saturday, sparking fears that the political crisis could turn into a new major conflict.
Small arms fires and explosions shook several areas of Tripoli overnight, and until Saturday smoke could be seen rising from damaged buildings.
Early Saturday evening, Tripoli’s health ministry estimated that 12 people were killed and 87 wounded in the fighting.
The ministry earlier said six hospitals had been attacked and ambulances could not reach areas affected by the conflict, and condemned “war crimes”.
The two rival governments have blamed each other, with videos posted online showing burned cars and buildings riddled with bullet holes, as well as a mosque on fire.
The UN mission to Libya called for an “immediate cessation of hostilities”, citing “ongoing armed clashes, including indiscriminate medium and heavy shelling of civilian areas”, which it said had damaged hospitals.
The U.S. embassy in Libya said it was “very concerned” about the conflict.
The death of actor Mustapha Baraka in a community battered by fighting has sparked outrage and mourning on social media, news agency Lana said.
Abdulhamid Dbeibah’s Government of National Unity (GNU) said the fighting had broken out after talks to avoid bloodshed in the western city collapsed.
Dbeibah’s government, formed as part of a UN-led peace process following the last round of violence, was challenged by a rival government led by former interior minister Fathi Bashagha.
Bashagha, backed by Libya’s parliament and eastern military strongman Khalifa Haftar, said the GNU license had expired.
But so far, he has been unable to take office in Tripoli, as Debeba insists on handing power only to the democratically elected government.
Dbeibah’s government accused Bashagha of “carrying out his threat” to take Tripoli by force.
Dbeibah’s GNU said talks were underway “to hold elections at the end of the year to resolve the political crisis” but Bashagha “withdrew at the last minute”.
Bashagha denies having held such talks and accuses Dbeibah’s “illegal” government of “holding power”.
Emadeddin Badi, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, warned that violence could escalate rapidly.
He told AFP: “Urban warfare has its own logic, it is harmful to both the civilian infrastructure and the people, so if it is not a prolonged war, this conflict will be very damaging as we have already seen. sex.”
He added that the fight could strengthen Haftar and those around him.
“They will benefit from the division of western Libya, and once the dust settles, they will have a better negotiating position.”
Bashagha was appointed in February by the parliament, which was elected in 2014 and is based in the eastern city of Tobruk, but he has been unable to impose his authority in Tripoli.
Initially ruling out the use of violence, the former interior minister later suggested he could resort to force.
Last week, he called on “Libyan honorees” to drop their support for Debeba’s “outdated and illegal” government.
Last month, clashes between rival groups in Tripoli left 16 people dead, including a child.
It was the deadliest violence to hit the Libyan capital since Haftar’s ill-fated attempt to seize the country by force in 2019 and 2020.
Learn about IBT news from the following sources
© Copyright AFP 2022. all rights reserved.