Worst fighting in months as clashes hit Libyan capital Tripoli

Clashes erupt amid sounds of gunfire in Libya’s Tripoli, residents say, after armed faction leader reportedly detained.

Soldiers loyal to the head of Libya's Government of National Unity, Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, sit in the back of a truck in Tripoli, Libya
Fighting between the two most powerful factions in the capital could pose significant risks [File: Hazem Ahmed/Reuters]

Clashes have broken out in the Libyan capital Tripoli, residents said, after the reported seizure of a powerful armed faction commander by a rival force.

“We have heard gunfire for almost two hours now and we do not know what will happen. We fear for our safety,” said one of the residents in Furnaj district late on Monday.

Mahmoud Hamza, head of the 444 Brigade that controls much of Tripoli, was detained at Mitiga airport by the Special Deterrence Force, local media and a source in the 444 Brigade said.

Any sustained fighting between the two factions, the most powerful in the capital after a period of military consolidation, could pose significant risks.

Monday’s clashes are already the worst to hit Tripoli for months, though there has been sporadic violence between armed factions in some other parts of northwest Libya in recent weeks.

Libya has had little peace or security since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising, and control has been divided between warring eastern and western factions since 2014. While there has been a ceasefire since 2020, there is no sign of a lasting political solution.

A video shared online, which a witness to the clashes said was authentic, showed tracer fire streaming past an apartment building as the sound of gunshots rattled out.

Reuters news agency reported armed men had closed a major road in the Ain Zara district, near where the clashes were taking place.

Source: Reuters