By Moutaz Ali.
Tripoli, 27 January 2017:
Angry residents of west Tripoli’s upmarket Hay Andalus district have blocked all main roads leading to the area, as well as burning tyres in protest at the presence of members of the “Mobile Forces” militia in their neighbourhood.
The protests came after the expiry of a 72-hour ultimatum to the group, operating under the name of the Hay Andalus Defence Operations Room, to leave the area. The warning was made after a gathering of Hay Andalus residents three days ago.
“Our message was clear: living in the area with their presence has become unbearable,” Hussam Zagaar, an activist from Hay Andalus, told the Libya Herald.
“They occupy the villas of those who have left and are using them to carry out their crimes. They have caused us a great deal of panic,” he added.
The group is accused of kidnapping for ransom, trafficking drugs and alcohol and running a prostitution racket.
Zagaar said some elders from Hay Andalus had tried to resolve the situation peacefully. He pointed out that the militiamen and the Mobile Forces had been part of Libya Dawn and were now supporters of former Libya Dawn “prime minster” Khalifa Ghwell.
Members of the Hay Andalus Defence Operations Room are largely Amazigh and are headed by Adel Sifau (also known as Shita), who was arrested by the Special Deterence Forces (Rada) a fortnight ago, accused of various crimes. That arrest also led to local streets being closed, but in this case by his fellow militiamen trying to force his release.
Meanwhile, people also gathered today in central Tripoli in support of the Hay Andalus inhabitants.
“We call all neighbourhoods and districts in Tripoli to support Hay Andalus people and do the same thing they have done,” they stated.