Intense fighting occurred early Friday in Libya between competing groups, with reports of many people dead amid rising worry that a political impasse might spark further bloodshed.

A Reuters correspondent saw fights in the central district near the Radisson Blu hotel, which is home to various government and foreign institutions, as well as diplomatic offices, and military vehicles mobilized around Zawiyat Dahmani.

Witnesses reportedly reported violence in the Asbaa and Ain Zara areas. According to Tripoli locals, a man and a kid were slain. According to local news reports quoting medical authorities, five persons were murdered.

Libya has been on the verge of civil war for months after the eastern-based parliament rejected the Tripoli-based unity government, which was formed via a United Nations-backed procedure last year, and chose a rival administration.

Both prime ministers have the backing of the armed militias that dominate the capital and other western Libyan towns.

Fathi Bashagha, the parliament-appointed prime minister, has been unable to enter Tripoli because forces in the city supporting the Government of National Unity (GNU) and its prime minister, Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, have barred his admission.

Political moves in recent weeks have suggested a probable realignment of power brokers and armed groups, which might lead to further violence.

PROTESTS

The largest rallies in years took place earlier this month in places throughout Libya controlled by different militias, highlighting widespread outrage over the absence of elections and substandard state services.

Following that, groups in many cities imprisoned persons suspected of participation, causing the United Nations mission in Libya to express alarm on Thursday.

Meanwhile, a blockade of oil production by factions supporting eastern commander Khalifa Haftar has cut off money to Dbeibah’s administration.

However, Dbeibah nominated a new state oil company head last week, who is thought to be a friend of Haftar, resulting in a quick end to the embargo.

This fueled speculation of a pact between Haftar and Dbeibah to keep him in power. A senior official from Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) made his first visit to Tripoli this week as part of planned discussions to preserve a 2020 ceasefire.

Western Libyan armed forces fought Haftar during his assault on the capital in 2019-20 and refuse to recognise his dominance in Tripoli, which previously weighed against Bashagha but may suddenly be an issue for Dbeibah.

For the first time since his appointment by parliament, Bashagha traveled to Misrata, a key western city that is both his and Dbeibah’s hometown. The action sparked protests in the city from both parties supporting and opposing him.

Source: Reuters

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