Fighting spreads in Tripoli as brigades move against GNC attackers; five dead
Tripoli, 18 May 2014:
Fighting which started at the General National Congress (GNC) this evening spread across the capital. It first shifted to Hay Al-Akwakh, near the steel bridge on the Airport Road, but since then missiles were reported to have fallen by the TV station near the end of Ennasr Street and heavy firing was heard in the Corniche area on the way to Mitiga airbase. The fighting has since died down.
Eyewitnesses near the Airport Road have told the Libya Herald that heavy clashes had taken place there after a number of Tripoli militias united against the Qaaqaa and Sawaiq brigades following their attack against the GNC. Ignewa Al-Kikly, an Islamist brigade based in Abu Sleem, was said to be out in large numbers on the road and rockets were fired into the surrounding residential area.
An Interior Ministry official also told this newspaper that Qaaqaa units had forced their way into the Ministry buildings on the Airport Road and had taken equipment.
Meanwhile, reports from Tripoli Central Hospital, Tripoli Medical Centre and the Khadra and Abu Sleem hospitals put the number of dead at five and those injured in the fighting at 73. Most of the latter were civilians caught in the crossfire while trying to return home. At least five are in serious condition.
These figure, however, are from one side only. The Zintanis were said to be taking their wounded elsewhere.
The hospitals are also calling for urgent blood donations.
Reports that Tripoli International Airport is closed are untrue. Airport officials have said it was operating normally but that few passengers were turning up.
There are fears that sunrise will bring new clashes. A source close to the Qaaqaa and Sawaiq brigades has said that further reinforcements from Zintan were now on their way to Tripoli.
The same source also insisted that the two groups had not aligned themselves with General Khalifa Hafter in his bid to expel Islamist militias from Benghazi and take control of the city.