TRIPOLI : Clashes between rival militias in Tripoli have killed at least 22 people and wounded 72, the Libyan government said on Sunday, warning of a ‘worsening humanitarian situation’ in the capital.
The latest fighting, which broke out on Saturday, takes the death toll in Tripoli to 124 since July 13, with more than 500 wounded. A medical source said the number was understated as official figures excluded those treated in hospitals outside Tripoli, in particular at Misrata, which has sent fighters to the conflict in the capital.
The transitional government said ‘several hundred’ families had been displaced and there was a ‘worsening humanitarian situation’ in Tripoli, where petrol and bottled gas are scarce along with food supplies. On Sunday the centre of the city was livelier than in recent days despite the continuation of fighting south of Tripoli. However, most shops and banks were shut and the sky was covered in black smoke from a petrochemical depot ravaged by a fire resulting from the fighting of the past week.
Tripoli airport has been closed since July 13, and some aircraft damaged, amid clashes between rival militias which fought together in 2011 to help overthrow dictator Moamer Kadhafi. Experts say the unrest is partly a struggle for influence between regions but also rivalry between political factions as the country plunges into chaos, with the authorities failing to control the dozens of militias whose word is law in the absence of a properly structured and trained police force and army.