18 November 2013

Libya: Troops Enter Tripoli, Misratans Exit

Tripoli — Libyan troops deployed to Tripoli on Monday (November 18th), in the wake of deadly clashes between an armed brigade and anti-militia protestors, AFP reported.

The violence erupted Friday, when Misrata militiamen opened fire on demonstrators gathered to demand their departure from the capital. The arrival of rival militias led to further gunfire.

Some 47 people were killed and nearly 500 wounded in the fighting outside the group's headquarters in the city's Gharghour neighbourhood.

On Sunday night, elders and members of the Misrata shura and city councils agreed to withdraw militia brigades and Libya Shield units from Tripoli within three days, councilman Ibrahim Sagar told Libya Herald.

Misrata's members of congress and government officials would also quit the capital.

Local council chief Sadat al-Badri declared three days of mourning in Tripoli and called for civil disobedience, while Grand Mufti Sheikh Sadiq Gharyani supported the call for peaceful protests to clear Tripoli of armed militias.

"The tragedies that take place every day are the result of whims and insistence on using arms," Prime Minister Ali Zidan noted on Saturday. "The government has repeatedly warned that the most dangerous thing was to have arms beyond the regular police and army forces."

Thousands attended funeral prayers at Martyrs' Square for the slain protestors.

"This is an opportunity for all of us in Libya to call for civil disobedience all over the country," said Seraj Abdel Hafid, 32.

It is Libya's chance "to impose the army and police", he added.

In his turn, Khalid Mohammed, 45, said, "The Libyan people must take to streets in demonstrations to put an end to bloodshed."

"People are still the only weapon that can easily defeat all political and military forces," said 40-year-old educational inspector Ali Makhlouf. "Therefore, when will our decision-makers realise that wisdom lies in winning the people over rather than appeasing opponents?"

Attacks against militia opponents were not contained in Tripoli. The Misrata home of Congressman Hasan Lamin was reportedly torched after he criticised the militias.

"All Libyan cities must follow in Tripoli's footsteps, and Misrata in particular must cleanse itself and force the militias to disband and turn in their weapons. They have to understand that they have betrayed the martyrs' blood," he said in an interview with Libya Al Ahrar TV.

Meanwhile in Benghazi, another top official was the target of an assassination attempt on Monday. The motorcade of Colonel Abdallah al-Saati, head of the joint security room and military governor of Benghazi, came under attack in the Al-Hadeq area.

His bodyguard died in the bomb blast.

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