November 15, 2013
At least 31 people have been killed and 235 injured in clashes in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, officials say, after militiamen opened fire on protesters.
Hours after the incident, armed men returned to storm the compound, where militiamen are still holed up. The Libyan government has been struggling to contain numerous militias who control many parts of the country.Prime Minister Ali Zeidan gave a televised address in which he said all militias had to leave Tripoli without exception.
However, it is unclear how the authorities plan to dislodge them, the BBC’s Rana Jawad reports from Tripoli.
This is a serious development in the capital that is reminiscent of events in Libya’s second city, Benghazi, earlier this year. when anti-militia protesters attacked bases and more than a dozen people were killed.
One of the key issues, according to many in Tripoli, is that large numbers of militias in the city are from brigades from other cities, like Misrata – at the centre of today’s confrontation – and Zintan for example.
Unlike last week, where the fighting was between two rival militias, the implications of any armed group facing off with civilians are potentially dangerous here because the majority of civilians still have weapons at home.
If officials again react passively to the latest incident, it may fuel a cycle of revenge attacks which could spiral out of control.