Saturday 23 September 2017

Shooting in Libya's Tripoli during anti-militias demo

Shooting in Libya's Tripoli during anti-militias demo
(AFP (eng) 03/18/17)
Shooting in Libya's Tripoli during anti-militias demo

Gunmen opened fire in the Libyan capital on Friday as hundreds of people demonstrated against the presence of militias in Tripoli, where armed groups are key power brokers, witnesses said.

There were no immediate reports of casualties and the identities of the gunmen were not clear, but the shooting forced demonstrators off the streets.

Hundreds of people had gathered earlier at Martyr's Square in the city centre, carrying signs denouncing the presence of militias in Tripoli.

They also called on authorities to re-empower the police and army in order to restore stability in the chaos-ridden country.

The demonstration came days after the city had been paralysed amid exchanges of rocket and artillery fire between forces loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord and rival militias.

The fighting lasted four days and subsided only after the GNA signed a ceasefire agreement with militias from Tripoli and third city Misrata and local mayors.

The truce announced Thursday has largely held despite brief clashes the same day in the south of the city.

"We want a stable Libya, we want our dignity back," said resident Salim Aoun who took part in Friday's protest.

Another demonstrator, Wissam Arab, said Tripoli residents are "tired of these militias" who continue to control the city in defiance of the GNA.

Militias have been key power brokers in a country plagued by violence and lawlessness since the NATO-backed ouster of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

The embattled GNA has secured the support of several armed groups, but dozens of militias continue to operate in Tripoli.

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