Several civilians killed in clashes between militias in Tripoli, the Libyan capital

At least nine people were killed in the night from Thursday to Friday during violent clashes between militias in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, said the emergency services.

Updating an earlier toll, emergency services told Al-Ahrar TV that a child was among the nine dead and that 25 other people, including civilians, were injured, several seriously.

Tensions have been rising for months as two prime ministers vie for power in the North African country, raising fears of a renewed conflict two years after a historic truce ended a ruinous bid by eastern military leader Khalifa Haftar to seize Tripoli by force.

The latest fighting began with a firefight on Thursday evening in Ain Zara, a densely populated neighborhood in eastern Tripoli, between Al-Radaa force and the Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade, media reported.

It then spread to other areas, trapping 60 students in university dormitories until they were rescued, Osama Ali of the ambulance service told Al-Ahrar news channel.

Hundreds of women attending wedding ceremonies in Fornaj district were also trapped.

“We spent the night in the basement. Our children were terrified,” resident Mokhtar al-Mahmoudi told AFP.

Both groups involved in the fighting are nominally loyal to the Government of National Accord of Abdulhamid Dbeibah, appointed last year as part of a UN-backed peace process to end more than a decade of violence in oil-rich Libya.

Dbeibah refused to cede power to Fathi Bashagha, who was named prime minister in February by a parliament based in eastern Libya after striking a pact with Haftar.

In mid-May, Bashagha attempted to take office in the capital but sparked clashes between armed groups supporting him and those supporting Dbeibah.

In early July, he told AFP that he still intended to enter Tripoli “in the coming days”.

Clashes on June 10, involving different militias this time, left one dead, a security source said.

But the latest fighting was the first in months to claim civilian casualties in the capital.

Images posted on social media showed dozens of abandoned vehicles, doors open in the middle of the road, by motorists fleeing the violence.

The unrest has forced flights from Libyan Airlines and another carrier, Alamia, to be diverted from Tripoli’s Mitiga airport to Misrata, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) east of the capital.

Libya has been plagued by insecurity since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed dictator Muammar Gaddafi, leaving a power vacuum that armed groups have fought for years to fill.

(AFP)

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