By Ashraf Abdul-Wahab.
Tripoli, 19 January 2014:
Eleven people were killed today in clashes between suspected criminals and security forces who were carrying out a dragnet operation in an area south and south-west of the Tripoli suburb of Janzour.
The dead included Mohamed Kara, brother the former SSC commander Abdul Raouf Kara. One other member of the security forces was also killed in the fighting. The other nine are said to have been members of criminal gangs operating from farms in the area between Zahira, south east of Zawia, and Najila, some five kilometres south of Janzour.
Another former member of the SSC who was involved in the operation told the Libya Herald that half the target area had been swept today and that 30 people had been arrested, nine of whom had been injured in the fighting. They had been taken to Abu Sleem Hospital.
Mohamed Kara’s death was confirmed to this newspaper by Hashim Bishr, head of the now disbanded SSC.
The dragnet was undertaken by the capital’s Joint Operations Room and the Libyan Revolutionaries Operation Room. They were looking for a number of alleged criminals wanted by the public prosecutor who were believed to be operating from the area. The operation started early this afternoon near Zahra but there was fierce resistance from gang members, particularly around Najila. Heavy weapons, including RPGs, were used and the sound could be heard in much of west Tripoli as well as near the international airport, some 15 kilometres away.
Fighting was reported to be still taking place this evening in Najila as well as at two other nearby locations.
As a result of the fighting the streets in nearby Janzour were almost deserted, with most people staying indoors.