By Ashraf Abdul Wahab, Ahmed Elumami and Reem Tombokti
Tripoli, 26 June 2013:
For the second day running, violence returned today to Tripoli with confused fighting between rival groups in and around the Abu Saleem district which left at least two people dead, including a young bystander and around two dozen people injured.
The renewed fighting was between brigades nominally under the control of the Interior Ministry and other units supposedly taking their orders from the Ministry of Defence and by extension the armed forces.
Nevertheless the violence prompted an angry denunciation from the Acting Chief of Staff Salem Gnaidi this evening in a radio statement. He warned that anyone carrying a weapon in the capital should be disarmed. However he went on to say that the army was not yet strong enough to disarm outside militias itself unaided and therefore called on local militias to assist it.
The government meanwhile issued a statement confirming GNC Resolution 27 demanding Tripoli be made free of all armed groups.
Details of the violence today remain sketchy but one part of the fighting involved the Abu Saleem Military Council, an SSC unit which was attacked by a brigade, reported in some quarters to be associated with the Defence Ministry. A commander of the SSC formation, named as El-Kekli was reportedly injured and another man, identified only as Muaid died of a head wound.
The engagement which involved heavy calibre machine guns and RPGs raged for several hours and columns of smoke could be seen rising from the area. The nearby Airport Road was closed to traffic for some hours, One source said that part of the old Abu Saleem market housing carpet sellers had been destroyed and a nearby house seriously damaged. Unconfirmed reports say that the attackers managed to free some prisoners held by the Abu Saleem Military Council.
A second fire-fight , which broke out at around the same time this afternoon is believed to have been a continuation of Wednesday’s armed clash in the Salahaddin district, between the Petroleum Facilities Guards and Zintani militiamen. At one point, witnesses claimed to have seen at least one tank being deployed by the Zintanis.
With additional reporting from Aimen Eljali.