Fighting erupted earlier this evening in Libya’s capital city between local militias and tribal fighters from Tarhouna.
Tension between the two sides has been mounting for days and it escalated this morning after Tarhouna’s al-Kani militias began advancing to the north. Tripoli militias responded by erecting checkpoints and deploying heavy weaponry across southern areas of the city including Khallat Ferjan, Wadi Rabie and Salah-Eddin. Shipping containers and sand barriers have been used to close the region’s main roads.
It was understood that Kani militias are now in control of Qasr bin Ghashir suburb and Wadi Rabie bridge. Photos and videos published on social media showed smoke bellowing from unidentified locations in Salah-Eddin district.
Kani militias have long expressed desire to capture Qasr bin Ghashir, Salah-Eddin, Abu Saleem and al-Hadhbah which they consider to be an extension of Tarhouna’s tribal heartland. It remains unclear, however, why they chose to act now.
Both warring parties nominally operate under the defence ministry of Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA). Yesterday, the Seventh Brigade (commonly known as Kani militias) issued a statement calling Tripoli militias “drug traffickers” and vowed to end their alleged drug trade. A threat which was dismissed on the same day in a separate statement by the notables of Tarhouna.
The GNA lacks real military forces and relies on a loose alliance of Tripoli-based militias some of which have been accused last week by the UN of intimidating and exploiting state institutions. Militias represent the biggest obstacle to stability in Libya’s capital and they continue to oppose any attempt by the government to have them reintegrated into state security agencies.