News / Middle East

Libya Defense Minister to Be Removed After Tripoli Clashes

Libyan Defense Minister Mohammed al-Barghati is seen in a May 11, 2013, file photo.Libyan Defense Minister Mohammed al-Barghati is seen in a May 11, 2013, file photo.
Libyan Defense Minister Mohammed al-Barghati is seen in a May 11, 2013, file photo.
Libyan Defense Minister Mohammed al-Barghati is seen in a May 11, 2013, file photo.
Libya's defense minister will be removed from his post following fierce clashes between rival armed militias in the capital, Tripoli, in which 10 people were killed and more than 100 injured, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said on Thursday.

Calling the repeated violence plaguing Libya ”suicidal scenes,'' Zeidan said his government and the national assembly had pledged to clean Libya's streets of weapons, a mammoth task in a country where militias often do as they please.

Loud explosions and gunfire rocked Tripoli late into the night on Wednesday, the second day of violence in the battle-scarred city, highlighting the rivalries between heavily armed groups roaming the country since the fall of Moammar Gadhafi.

Armed groups made up of former rebel fighters from different
parts of the country have grown in power and ambition nearly two years after Gadhafi was ousted, and the government has struggled to impose its authority over them.

Defense Minister Mohammed al-Bargathi had submitted his resignation last month after some of the groups besieged two ministries. However, he was persuaded to stay on.

”After what happened yesterday, it has been decided that he will be relieved of his position,'' Zeidan said in a televised statement. “We will name a new minister as soon as possible.''

The premier said a new army chief would also be named soon after Yussef al-Mangoush resigned this month following deadly clashes in the eastern city of Benghazi.

Libyan Health Minister Nurideen Doghman said five people had been killed and 97 wounded in Wednesday's clashes. That came after five were killed and 20 wounded in fighting on Tuesday.

The violence started on Tuesday morning when a militia given the job of guarding a major oil field attacked the headquarters of the national force set up to guard oil facilities across the country.

The group from the western town of Zintan was disgruntled after another group was given supervision of a drilling operation in the area, officials said.

That fighting stirred widespread resentment in Tripoli against fighters from Zintan, and by Wednesday parts of the city were caught up in fighting.

Underlining the complexity of the situation, Wednesday's violence pitted a separate group from Zintan against fighters from the Tripoli-based Supreme Security Committee (SSC).

”Such incidents that take place due to the prevalence of weapons, need to stop. Ensuring safety does not mean sitting with a weapon ... it means supporting the unity of the nation and its legitimate bodies,'' Zeidan said.

Without giving further details, he said his government and the National Assembly, Libya's highest political body, had agreed “to take the necessary steps to disarm civilians,” with their weapons to be handed over to the armed forces.

Zeidan said Bargathi, upon instructions from the National Assembly, had ordered brigades aligned with the defense ministry to leave positions inside Tripoli and to set up around the city.

”The regular military forces should be based around the city and not inside unless there is a state of emergency or it is ordered by the chief of staff,'' he said.

In a separate incident in the southern desert town of Sabha, two people were killed and 17 were injured when three car bombs exploded in different areas late on Wednesday.

You May Like

Video Getting to Zero AIDS Infections

More than 35 million people around the world are infected with HIV, a disease that is both preventable and treatable

Children, Childhoods Lost in European Refugee Crisis

According to UNICEF, 190,000 children applied for political asylum in Europe in the first 9 months of this year - twice as many as last year

What Happened When I Landed in Antarctica

Refael Klein chronicles what it's like to visit one of the coldest, most desolate places on Earth

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs