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New Libyan Parliament Meets Far from Tripoli

  • VOA News

Lawmakers from Libya's newly-elected parliament assembled in Tobruk, Aug. 2, 2014.

Lawmakers from Libya's newly-elected parliament assembled in Tobruk, Aug. 2, 2014.

Libya's newly elected parliament held its first session Monday in the eastern city of Tobruk — 1,500 kilometers from fighting in Tripoli between rival militias vying for control of the international airport in the capital.

About three-fourths of lawmakers showed up for the start of the parliamentary session that was held in a heavily guarded hotel. But the session was largely boycotted by pro-Islamist deputies, including the head of the outgoing parliament, Nouri Abu Sahmein, who called for a rival opening session in Tripoli.

Continued fighting there and in Benghazi, which has claimed more than 200 lives in recent weeks, made them unsafe venues for the legislators.

As parliament met, intense artillery and rocket fire hit parts of Tripoli. Islamist militias from the coastal city of Misrata and the mountain town of Zintan, combatants who once fought side by side to oust longtime Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, are fighting for control of the airport.

Libya says 22 people were killed Saturday in the airport fighting.

Shelling set fire to eight huge oil depots, sending plumes of black smoke billowing into the air over Tripoli.

Libya is facing some of its worst violence since Gadhafi was toppled. It has renewed fears that Libya is plunging deeper into civil strife and forced several countries to evacuate their diplomats and close their embassies.

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