Heavy clashes in Abu Sleem; shooting spreads to other Tripoli districts
By Moutaz Ali.
Tripoli, 8 February 2017:
This afternoon clashes erupted in Abu Sleem and Salahedeen districts in Tripoli between the Abu Sleem Central Security Force belonging to Abdul Ghani Al-Kikli (a.k.a. Ghneiwa) and gunmen from the Salah Al-Burki Brigade, most of them from Misrata. Reports tonight indicate tanks and heavy mortar are being used. There was shooting in Ain Zara and Tajoura.
Residents in Abu Sleem are staying at home and the streets are empty.
“The shooting hasn’t stopped since the early afternoon. We don’t dare go out to see what’s happening,” a local resident told the Libya Herald.
He added he had heard the Burki unit had destroyed a Ghneiwa position in retaliation for a similar action by it.
Both the Ghneiwa and Burki militias have fought each other in the past. The former are linked to the Presidency Council. Those of Birki support Khalifa Ghwell, the former “prime minister” of the so-called national salvation government.
The reason for the clashes are not immediately clear, although on its Facebook page belonging to the Ghneiwa forces it said it was dealing with an armed gang that had stolen nine cars in the area.
The militia also posted a couple of days ago the apparent confessions of two men accused of kidnapping and robbery and said to belong to the “Libyan National Guards” (LNG).
The latter unit also supports Khalifa Ghwell.
It has been using the Rixos complex and the forest surrounding as its headquarters. Eyewitnesses report the increasing spread of checkpoints the Rixos area. As part of a military building in the area, the Misratan Marsa brigade announced today the arrival of 300 armoured vehicles to Tripoli, belonging to LNG.
Meanwhile, Ghwell chaired a meeting this morning at the General Electricity Company of Libya (GECOL) to follow up on the general power cuts that have crippled Libya in the past month. It was reported foreign representatives attended.
In contrast, calm returned to Janzour as schools reopened following a two-day hiatus. Representatives from the ministry of education visited two of them today to check on their situation and inspect examination procedures.
Intense fighting erupted six days ago in the area and continued despite a ceasefire being agreed between Janzour militias and the neighbouring Wirshefana, mediated by local elders.
Hopwever, further complicating the situation, social media images today appeared to show Ghwell greeting fighters at Bridge 17 in Janzour, where the fighting initially erupted. It is also claimed he visited the checkpoint at Camp 27, further west. It is in Wirshefana territory.