By Mustafa Gahja.
Tripoli, March 25: A fire which destroyed a whole-sellers’ market in south Tripoli’s Crimea district in the early hours . . .[restrict]of Friday is claimed to have been caused by a rocket-propelled grenade following during a fight between revolutionaries. A neighbour said that gunfire is heard every night in the area.
The fire caused estimated losses of LD 4-6 million and destroyed 25 percent of the newly-built market.
Other neighbours claim that it was arson and talk of a dispute as to its ownership.
The complex, which was not in use yet, is government owned. However, following Tripoli’s liberation there were claims that it was built on seized private property. Written on the smoldering buildings can be seen ‘Property of Al-Zintani’. The market, built on the site of the old one, was finished a few months before the February 17 revolution broke out. The shops were allocated by the government to tenants.
It is claimed that some of them paid high prices for them and that others managed to obtain them through connections. The market suffered considerable looting before and after the liberation of Tripoli.
The fire started at approximately 3.00 am on Friday, but the fire fighters did not arrive until about 8.00 am. Some 15 fire brigades answered the calls for help. It was difficult to put the fire out as solidified sponge and wood had been used as insulators. It was not brought put out until the end of the day.
Neighbours have also suggested that a short circuit may have been responsible. The claim is based on the fact that electrical wires were found connected to air conditioners at the market, being used to steal electricity. [/restrict]