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Fighting between rival militias rocks Libya’s capital Tripoli

Clashes between armed groups have erupted in Libya’s capital, according to local media, as the country reels amid a violent power struggle.

Heavy exchanges of gunfire and explosions ricocheted across several districts of Tripoli on Friday night, while images broadcast by local press and circulated on social media showed civilians fleeing heavily trafficked areas.

Local media reported medical sources saying four civilians were wounded in the clashes.

The intense fighting involved two influential militias from western Libya, according to local media, which identified armed groups as the Nawasi Brigade – a militia loyal to politician Fathi Bashagha – and the Stability Support Force, which backs interim premier Abdul Hamid Dbeibah.

No motive for the fighting was immediately apparent, but it is the latest violence to rock the country as two rival prime ministers vie for power.

After a 2011 revolt toppled longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi, political infighting to fill the power vacuum has plagued oil-rich Libya.

Last month, Bashagha attempted to seize power by force, sparking pre-dawn clashes between armed groups supporting him and those backing Dbeibah.

Dbeibah was appointed under a troubled United Nations-led peace process early last year to lead a transition to elections set for December 2021, but the vote was indefinitely postponed.

In February, parliament appointed Bashagha, a one-time interior minister, to take over, arguing that Dbeibah’s mandate had ended.

But Dbeibah has insisted he will only relinquish power to an elected administration.

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