By Libya Herald reporter,
Tripoli, 18 November 2015:
Tensions continue to rise in Tripoli following a mass seizure of Misratans in the city by . . .[restrict]local militias yesterday and a statement by them effectively ordering Misratan forces out of the capital. Leaders of a number of the city’s revolutionaries and militias, including Haitham Tajuri and Abdul Ghani Kikli (more ususlly known as Ghnaiwa), last night held a “council of war” in Tripoli’s Corinthia hotel, reportedly agreeing to unite their forces if it came to a fight with those from Misrata.
In a clear reference to Misratan forces but not mentioning them by name, the statement said that some militias which had joined Libya Dawn operation had appointed themselves as the police in Tripoli. Accusing them of kidnapping, robbery and other crimes in parts of the capital, the signatories to the statement said that they would not allow this to continue.
“We will not allow any infringement upon our city”, read the statement, signed by 11 Tripoli militia leaders including Tajouri and Ghnaiwa.
Friction between Tripoli revolutionaries and Misrata has been rising ever since Misratan brigades signed peace deals over the summer with the Wershefana and other groups west of Tripoli and pulled out of the area.
As a result of the split within the Libya Dawn alliance, there has been a growing number of sproadic clashes between Misratans and the Tripoli revolutionaries. Last month saw fighting between Misratans forces and gunmen loyal to Tajouri near the Wadi Rabie barracks, east of Tripoli International Airport. This month Tajouri’s forces again clashed with Misratans, attacking the Prime Ministry building in Tripoli, which the latter were guarding.
The current crisis is said to have followed a warning to Ghneiwa that he had to release prisoners held by him, including some Misratans. When he failed to respond, Misratan forces on Monday attacked a villa in Tripoli’s Hadba district which was reportedly being used as a prison, and freed a number of captives. These have been named as Salah Mamas, Abduljalil Al-Ghraibi Al-Rujbani, Mahmud Al-Muzafer, Abdulqader Al-Hashmi, Jibril Ben Mousa and Sayd Uglu, the latter a Turkish businessmen. It is alleged that all had been kidnapped for ransom.
Rujbani, the head of Tripoli Central Hospital, was abducted in May.
It was initially reported that in Monday’s raid, Ghneiwa himself had been captured. In the event, it was one of his senior commanders who was taken.
In response, Ghneiwa gunmen yesterday set up checkpoints across Tripoli, even on the main highway. Eye witnesses reported that anyone from Misrata was arrested. Dozens were said to have been seized, with some reports putting the figure at 100.
Ghneiwa allegedly wants to use those arrested in exchange for those of this men being held by the Misratans; he is also said to want those being held at the Hadba villa to be handed back to him.
Last night in a bid to calm measures, elders from Tripoli’s Abu Sleem district, Ghneiwa’s power base, held talks with Misratan counterparts.
The capital now awaits the result of talks between representatuves of Ghneiwa and the Misratan militias. The situation is “potentially very dangerous,” one official said, [/restrict]