Buwanis residents protest at escalating threats threat of military violence, call for Misrata’s Third Force to leave

By Libya Herald reporter.

Tripoli, 30 December 2016:

Representatives from civil society organisations and local elders from Al-Buwanis municipality near Sebha today demanded that the Libyan National Army (LNA) and Misrata’s Third Force stop fighting in the south. They also demanded the demilitarisation of their area and that the Third Force pull out.

The local protests come amid growing expectations of major clashes at any minute between the two sides. Locals have already been warned to evacuate their homes because of fears of an iminent outbreak of fighting.

Buwanis municipality includes Tamenhint airbase. The LNA’s Brigade No. 12 led by Colonel Mohamed Ben Nayel is now just a few kilometres away from it, and the LNA today claimed that representatives from the brigade were in discussions with airbase staff on its takeover.

Earlier this week it ordered the Third Force to quit the region but the Misratans have refused. Instead, the Misratan-dominated Bunyan Marsous (BM) operation, which a fortnight ago finally smashed Daesh in Sirte, has threatened airstrikes against Nayel’s fighters.

Making the threat, the BM spokesman Colonel Mohamed Ghasri claimed that Ben Nayel and his forces had given shelter to the remnants of Daesh which had fled Sirte. They would be targeted, he warned.

“Ben Nayel has provided these fleeing terrorists with weapons and shelter and we call on residents of Brak Al-Shatti to stop them taking over their military and civil airport,” he said on TV this afternoon.

The Brak Al-Shatti airport was taken over by Ben Nayel three weeks ago after the Third Force pulled out.

The deteriorating situation in the area has already resulted in flights from Tamenhint being cancelled and the airport closed.

Tamenhint was also the airport from which the Afiqiyah Airways flight to Tripoli, hijacked to Malta on 23 December, took off.

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