TRIPOLI - Gun battles between two leading armed groups in the Libyan capital Tripoli have killed 27 people and wounded 106, medics said Wednesday, as a tentative truce took hold. The clashes between the influential 444 Brigade and the Al-Radaa, or Special Deterrence Force, two of the myriad of militias that have vied for power since the overthrow of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011, erupted on Monday night and raged through Tuesday.
A total of 234 families were evacuated from frontline areas in the capital’s southern suburbs, along with dozens of doctors and paramedics who had got trapped by the fighting while caring for the wounded, the Emergency Medicine Centre said. Three field hospitals and a fleet of around 60 ambulances had been deployed to the area after the fighting broke out.
The clashes were triggered by the detention of the head of the 444 Brigade, Colonel Mahmud Hamza, by the rival Al-Radaa Force on Monday, an interior ministry official said.
Late Tuesday, the social council in the southeastern suburb of Soug el-Joumaa, a stronghold of the Al-Radaa force, announced an agreement had been reached with Prime Minister Abdelhamid Dbeibah, head of the UN-recognised government based in the capital, for Hamza to be handed over to a “neutral party”.
In a televised announcement, the council said a ceasefire would follow the transfer of the force’s commander and late Tuesday the fighting abated.
Both armed groups are aligned with Dbeibah’s government, one of two rival administrations that vie for power through shifting alliances with the militias on the ground.
Overnight, Dbeibah visited the southeastern suburb of Ain Zara, which saw some of the heaviest fighting on Tuesday, accompanied by Interior Minister Imed Trabelsi.