News / Middle East

    Libyan Capital Rocked by Gunfire, Explosions

    Smoke rises over the rubble of buildings damaged in explosions that took place at midnight, Salaheddin district, Tripoli, Libya, May 21, 2014.
    Smoke rises over the rubble of buildings damaged in explosions that took place at midnight, Salaheddin district, Tripoli, Libya, May 21, 2014.
    Reuters
    At least two people were killed when heavy fighting erupted near the Libyan capital of Tripoli on Wednesday, two days after gunmen stormed parliament in some of the city's worst violence since the 2011 war.

    Residents reported several loud explosions near the al-Yarmouk barracks in the Salaheddin district. Gunfire and explosions later appeared to die down.

    Heavy fighting involving anti-aircraft batteries also broke out near an army camp in Tajoura, an eastern suburb. “We're hearing really loud explosions and gunshots near the camp, but we don't know who is shooting,” a Tajoura resident said.

    It was unclear who was involved in the latest violence, which killed at least two people from Mali, a health ministry source said. Other parts of the capital appeared to be quiet.

    In addition, Libya's top naval commander, General Hasssan Abu Shanaq, survived an assassination attempt by unknown gunmen as he was traveling to work, a spokesman for the chief of staff said.

    In the eastern city of Benghazi, gunmen killed a Chinese engineer on Tuesday after kidnapping him from his worksite and then dumping his body, according to a security source in the eastern city.

    The engineer was one of three colleagues at a Chinese construction company who were all abducted from a worksite on Wednesday, according to China's official press agency, XinHua. He was later found shot and died in hospital, XinHua reported. His two colleagues were released.

    Militants around Benghazi have targeted foreigners in the past, including an attack on the U.S. consulate in 2012 in which U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died.

    Since Libya's 2011 war ended Moammar Gadhafi's one-man rule, the country's new institutions have struggled to gain popular backing and to make progress towards full democracy. But the central government has been unable to control the brigades and militias who helped to topple Gadhafi. They are now defying state authority to make their own demands.

    Tripoli has been calmer in the past two days, after militiamen stormed the General National Congress (GNC), Libya's parliament, on Sunday and fought for six hours with other armed groups on the airport road. The militiamen claimed loyalty to former army general Khalifa Haftar.

    On Friday, Haftar started what he called a military campaign against Islamist militants in Benghazi in the east. He also later claimed responsibility for the attack on parliament in Tripoli.

    Several military units have joined him, threatening to split the nascent regular forces and network of different militia. The militias are rivals for influence and are loosely aligned on opposing sides with Islamist and anti-Islamist political forces.

    Western governments are concerned Libya's instability may worsen and spill over into its North African neighbors, who are still emerging from the political unrest following the 2011 Arab Spring revolts.

    Political battle

    In a parallel political battle over who controls the OPEC producer, Libya's government put more pressure on parliament to suspend work until parliamentary elections are held in June.

    The cabinet has called on local councils across Libya to support a proposal that the GNC halt work until an upcoming national vote, according to a statement. It also wants to repeat the election of the prime minister.

    The government sent the proposal to the GNC on Monday, in an effort to force lawmakers to hand over power. Many Libyans blame political infighting in parliament for the country's bumpy transition since the 2011 war.

    “We urge all council leaders to study the initiative as soon as possible,” the cabinet said in a statement released on Wednesday.

    Businessman Ahmed Maiteeq was named as the new premier two weeks ago, in a chaotic vote disputed by many lawmakers. But he comes from Misrata, a western city with strong links to the Muslim Brotherhood — a no-go for fiercely anti-Islamist militias in eastern and western Libya.

    Haftar and other militias have demanded that parliament step down. But Islamist-leaning brigades and the Muslim Brotherhood have called for militias to protect the government institutions.

    The national election commission proposed late on Sunday holding parliamentary elections on June 25, an apparent attempt to ease growing tensions between the two camps.

    Parliament is split between Islamists and more moderate forces, as well along tribal lines. It bowed to public pressure and said in February it would hold early elections.

    You May Like

    US, Allies Discuss Next Steps in Islamic State Fight

    Meeting comes a day after US Navy SEAL was killed while fighting Islamic State forces in northern Iraq

    In China, Traditional Banks Fight Challenge From Internet Firms

    Internet companies lent more than $150 billion to customers in 2015, which is an extremely small amount compared to the much larger lending by commercial banks last year

    Trump Faces Tough Presidential Odds Against Clinton

    Numerous national election surveys show former secretary of state defeating presumptive Republican nominee with tough talk to halt illegal immigration and temporarily block Muslims from entering country

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: meanbill from: USA
    May 21, 2014 11:45 AM
    ONE thing is for sure -- General Haftar with (CIA), French and British Libyan militias, and up to (10) thousand NATO country trained Libyan troops fighting for him, and mercenaries provided by Saudi Arabia, has a military force the outmans and outguns, all the other Libyan militias. -- (AND?) -- he will seize the Libyan government with NATO airpower and weapon support.. (General Haftar will be the Next President?).. and request NATO protect the oil and gas for the European and Saudi oil companies?
    Thousands of US and NATO troops are standing by to seize the Libyan oil and gas terminals, depots, and companies.. -- The 6.2 million Libyans don't stand a chance against this US and NATO led assault....

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora