By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 16 February 15:
Heavy clashes that rocked the capital for more than five hours last night came after . . .[restrict]the arrest of a man whom pro-Libya Dawn officials in Tripoli claimed was a local drug dealer.
Fighting broke out in and around the Fashloum area at around 11pm, as family members, associates and neighbours protested the seizure of the man whose name has not yet been made public.
One official in Tripoli claimed the man was one of the country’s biggest drug smugglers who had long operated in the area. Locals, however, said this was a complete lie and that the individual had been arrested because he supported Operation Dignity led by Khalifa Hafter.
It was not clear how exactly fighting broke out between security personnel based in Suq Al-Juma and people in Fashloum, but it came after a number of makeshift road blocks were set up. Several very loud explosions alerted residents in neighbouring areas to the fact there was trouble and this was followed by intermittent clashes which became steadily louder and more severe.
There is an increasing sense of tension in the capital and some residents said they were feared the explosions were the start of an offensive or uprising.
‘It was so loud, the house shook. I thought something really big was happening,” one resident in Dahra told the Libya Herald. Another said the fighting came from several different areas, not only Fashloum.
There were also several exchanges of fire reported on the Corniche near Suq Al-Juma. Both armed and armoured vehicles were seen driving up and down the road early into the morning.
The clashes were heavy for at least four hours, residents said, with several climaxes of violent long-lasting exchanges of large-calibre gunfire. After initially dying down, sporadic fighting continued do several more hours [/restrict]