Members of two Libyan militias clashed in Tripoli after the death of one of their leaders, leaving at least 10 people injured amid intense gunfire, witnesses and security officials said.
The clashes erupted in several parts of the city after militia chief Nuri Friwan died from wounds he incurred at a checkpoint manned by former rebels from Soug al-Jomaa, an eastern Tripoli district.
To avenge his death armed members of the Misrata militia drove to the Soug al-Jomaa district in vehicles equipped with anti-aircraft guns, blocking the main road to the area, witnesses said.
Explosions and exchanges of gunfire could be heard into early Friday.
A medical source at a Tripoli hospital sai that at least 10 people, including civilians, had been injured in the exchanges, two seriously.
Some buildings near to the clashes were hit by the gunfire. The Radisson hotel, used by diplomats and businessmen was particularly badly hit by anti-aircraft gunfire.
“We are being terrorised. Many windows have been shattered,” one hotel guest told AFP.
One security source said a lot of the shots were fired, by both sides, into the air as a show of force.
From 1:00 am (2300 GMT Thursday) a relative calm descended punctuated by intermittent gunfire.
When Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi was overthrown and killed in October 2011, the rebels were hailed as heroes for bringing an end to more than four decades of dictatorship.
But since then, they have formed militias with different ideologies and motivations.
Today they stand accused of being responsible for many of Libya’s ills, notably the instability that still plagues parts of the North African nation.
Many militias have rejected the government’s demands to turn in their weapons or join the national security forces, and a patchwork of armed groups effectively controls much of the country.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]