Rival fighters killed, injured in clashes outside Libya's Tripoli
At least one fighter was killed and several injured by deadly clashes between rival militias in Libya late on Friday in urban areas of al-Zawiya, close to the outskirts of Tripoli, according to local Libyan media reports.
Videos on social media reportedly show exchanges of heavy fire by fighters stationed in between civilian buildings, which continued throughout the night.
A local Zawiyan militia was allegedly fighting against forces loyal to Abdulhamid Dbeibah, according to unconfirmed reports.
“We call for all sides involved in the confrontation to cease the use of violence,” said a statement by Libya’s interior minister Essam Abouzreiba.
“Fighting and killing over private interests, especially in densely populated civilian areas, is completely unacceptable” continued Abouzreiba’s statement published early on Saturday.
Libyans fear a return to violence as tensions escalate between the rival factions of Libya’s two prime ministers, Fathi Bashagha and Abdulhamid Dbeibah.
Bashagha was interior minister in the Tripoli-based government during Libya's most recent bout of conflict before a 2020 ceasefire, helping it to stave off a 14-month assault by eastern forces.
However, his government - the Tobruk-based House of Representatives - is now backed by the most powerful figures in eastern Libya including warlord Khalifa Haftar and parliament speaker Aguila Saleh.
Dbeibah was appointed to head an interim unity government through a UN-backed process last year that included a military ceasefire and was aimed at holding an election in December.
The parliament said his term of office expired when the election failed to take place and appointed Bashagha to replace him with elections postponed until next year - though Dbeibah has refused to acknowledge their decision.