Prime Minister warns of tough action after deadly clashes in Tripoli

Prime Minister . . .[restrict]Ali Zeidan meeting with the Cabinet on Wednesday                        (Photo: Prime Minister’s Office)

By Michel Cousins.

Tripoli, 10 January 2013:

Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has warned that lawlessness will not be tolerated. The government, he has said, was moving forward in the building of state institutions but there were “some entities” which wanted Libya to remain in chaos “in order for them to accomplish their interests”. He did not specify who he had in mind but said that the government would “not allow any obstacles to hinder our work or stop us”.

He urged Libyans to stand by the government’s side and to supporti it to achieve that end.

His comments, made at a cabinet meeting yesterday, Wednesday, followed two days of  disturbances in Tripoli in which at least two people died and several others were injured.

The clashes started on Monday when, following the death of an alleged drugs dealer from the capital’s Fashloum district, angry locals attacked the militia supposedly responsible for his death, while youngsters armed with machine guns closed roads in the area.

According to Interior Ministry Undersecretary Omar El Khadrawi, the dead man had been killed — “unlawfully” he said — by a support unit linked to the SSC commanded by Abdel-Raouf Karrah based at Mitiga airbase.

He did not name the unit but Karrah is head of the Nawasi brigade, widely viewed in Tripoli as Islamist.

Possibly because there was no response from the police, army or SSC at the time, the lawlessness quickly spread, resulting in the deaths of at least two more people.

Khadrawi said that one man, whom he named by as Mohamed Albuashi, was killed in a clash in the area of Ghrarat, Suk-Jumua. An unspecified support unit then managed to calm tempers but while it was on its way back to base, it was attacked by the Ejadida prison near Fornaj. In the fighting, one man was killed and five others wounded, one of them seriously. This, Khadrawi said, ratcheted up tensions in the Fashloum and Belkhair areas from where locals then went and attacked Karrah’s base at Mitiga airport.

The undersecretary announced an enquiry would be opened into what happened. Anyone who had a complaint against Karrah or the unit he commanded should submit it to the Interior Ministry, he said.  He promised it would be investigated “thoroughly and effectively”. But the unit that was being attacked was legitimate, he said, stressing that no one should take the law into his own hands.

The Prime Minister has announced that Karrah is to be questioned. He said that he will be held accountable if there is a case against him.

Responding to Khadrawi’s call for an end to public lawlessness, the SSC in Tripoli yesterday announced it would take action against anyone closing roads, causing harm to the public or damaging private or public property. In particular it called on parents to take control of their children and prevent them from causing such damage to property.

Fashloum is quiet today, Thursday, and roads there now open.

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