Death toll in Libya's Tripoli rises as fighting rages on

Rival armed groups have clashed for more than week over control of the capital city.

    Smoke raise as people check the damage after a rocket hit a camp for displaced people in Tripoli [Reuters]
    Smoke raise as people check the damage after a rocket hit a camp for displaced people in Tripoli [Reuters]

    The death toll from ongoing fighting in Libya's capital, Tripoli, has risen to at least 50, health officials said, as violence between rival militias rages on.

    The health ministry said on Tuesday clashes between armed groups had also left more than 138 people wounded.

    The previous death toll stood at 39 people, including 18 civilians.

    On August 27, fierce battles erupted in Tripoli's districts after the Seventh Brigade, an armed group based in Tarhouna, 65km southeast of the capital, launched a surprise offensive against rival militias.

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    A truce was reached the next day but clashes resumed shortly after, forcing authorities to close Tripoli's only functioning airport.

    The UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli declared a state of emergency on Sunday.

    Al Jazeera's Mahmoud Abdelwahed, reporting from Tripoli, said the situation remained tense with sporadic fighting and indiscriminate rocket fire continuing to land in residential areas.

    "Several attempts have failed to put a ceasefire in force since the clashes erupted on August 26," Abdelwahed said.

    "The Seventh Brigade whose commanders say it works under the presidential guard of the GNA was disavowed by the government in April."

    Facebook blackout 

    On Monday, the social media website Facebook was blocked in Tripoli and the surrounding cities.

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    Libyan utility LPTIC, which owns the two state-run telecoms firms, said in a statement that a lack of security had led to outages. Maintenance engineers were unable to reach some stations which had stopped working due to a lack of power.

    It did not comment on Facebook's blocking.

    Access to the web is controlled by state firms and monitored by security bodies which are effectively controlled by armed groups working with the weak GNA.

    Independent national media based inside Libya scarcely exists as journalists often face threats from armed groups or officials unhappy with critical coverage

    Libya slid into chaos after the 2011 uprising that overthrew and ruler Muammar Gaddafi and led to his death.

    The country is governed by rival authorities in Tripoli and the country's east, both of which are backed by an array of militias. 

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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