Originally published on November 16, 2013
Tripoli residents protesting the presence of armed militias in the city have been fired upon by militiamen from the city of Misrata, killing at least 32, on Friday. Around 500 Tripoli residents assembled in the capital's Meliana Square. They then marched on the Misrata armed group's headquarters in the Gharghour district. The militiamen fired an anti-aircraft cannon and rifles into the crowd. The protesters retreated, then some returned with arms including rocket propelled grenades.
Prime Minister Ali Zeidan is struggling to control rival militias, Islamist militants and other former fighters who refuse to surrender their arms two years after helping to oust Gaddafi in a NATO-backed revolt.
After Friday's violence, Zeidan demanded that all militias "without exception" leave Tripoli, but the clashes underscored how little his fledging military can do to curb ex-rebels, who have also shut down Libya's oil exports for months.
Zeidan denounced the killing of protesters. "The demonstration was peaceful and had been permitted by the Interior Ministry, and then the protesters were fired on when they entered the Gharghur district," he said.
Pro-government militias set up checkpoints on the coastal road to prevent reinforcements from Misrata entering Tripoli. Friday's violence marks the worst flare up of fighting in Tripoli since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi's regime in 2011.
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