Update: National Congress evacuated following firefight outside
Participants stand during handover ceremony of power from of National Transitional Council to members of the National Congress in Tripoli in August.
Tripoli, 25 September:
The entire National Congress has been evacuated after a firefight broke out following a protest outside by disgruntled former revolutionaries.
The incident happened early this afternoon, Tuesday, with witnessing reporting hearing bursts of fire over a period of two to three minutes.
It is not known how many people were injured during the exchange.
Revolutionaries had gathered outside the Congress building to protest about being marginalised by the new authorities. Some were reported to have been carrying banners saying “do not sideline the revolutionaries”.
Yesterday, graffiti slogans had been scrawled on the walls opposite the Congress, which previously housed the National Transitional Council.
The roads in and out of the Congress were closed off by security personnel throughout today, and conflicting accounts have emerged as to who was involved in the incident.
According to Nizar Kawan, an independent congressman from Hay Al-Andalus, the fighting followed a dispute between the protesters themselves.
“They started fighting among each other, first just hitting each other and then exchanging fire,” Nizar Kawan told the Reuters news agency.
“Some of them were saying they should end the protest, others did not want to, and it escalated.”
However, another congressman has claimed that the fighting was between protesters and members of the National Army charged with keeping order at the Congress.
“What I can tell you is that they started shooting and we were evacuated from our offices shortly afterwards”, Ahmed Dali Ahmeda, an independent Congressman from Souk Al-Jouma told the Libya Herald.
“The National Army has now gained control of the whole area”.
The decision to evacuate the Congress does not appear to have been coordinated, with Congressmen and women apparently left to their own devices once out of the building.
“Some are in the Rixos hotel, and others have gone elsewhere”, Ahmeda said. “I have returned to Souk Al-Juma.
Members should be able to return to the Congress at 9am tomorrow morning, Ahmeda added.
The incident comes three days after members of the SSC and their relatives reportedly threatened to attack the Rixos hotel, which sits adjacent to the Congress, following a bungled operation in Brak that left at least six people dead, mostly SSC members, last Wednesday.
The National Army is also conducting a coordinated campaign to clear renegade militia from their bases in Tripoli, with a 48-hour deadline for all militia not under government control to lay down their arms having expired yesterday night.
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