Although the Reuters report below claims protesters were armed, initially they went out peacefully unarmed, having announced their intention earlier this week to hold a rally demanding that all militias leave Tripoli following escalating violence against civilians over the past two weeks.
Zeidan conceded the protesters were nonviolent and had been granted a permit to hold today’s demonstration that, without provocation, turned into a massacre.
“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.”
Militia firing on unarmed demonstrators
An elderly man killed
The remains of a student killed by a barrage of heavy artillery
Once it was clear the militias were targeting civilians with anti-aircraft guns and heavy weaponry, intending to slaughter the protesters with impunity, residents able to fight gathered up weapons to defend their families, the children, the elderly and women, because there is no functioning army or police force to protect them.
Ali Zeidan made a show of demanding all militias vacate the city, yet the militias terrorizing civilians are either NATO or government paid mercenaries.
Tripoli’s central hospital is struggling to cope with the wounded and dying.
Where is the international community? Where are the human rights organizations? The United Nations?
- ارمله البحر وعاصمة الجردان:
- Dozens Dead, Hundreds Wounded as Militias Clash with Civilians in Tripoli
- Armed Men Set Fire to Militia HQ in Tripoli Following Friday’s Massacre of Protesters
- De-Facto Libya no Longer Exists as a Nation, Only Fragmented Territories
- بالفيديو.. ميليشيات الإخوان بليبيا تفتح النيران على المتظاهرين بطرابلس
37 Dead and Hundreds Wounded
At least 37 people were killed and almost 400 wounded in gun battles between Libyan militiamen and residents in Tripoli on Friday in the worst street fighting for months to test the shaky central government.
Prime Minister Ali Zeidan is struggling to control rival militias, Islamist militants and other former fighters who refuse to surrender their arms.
After Friday’s violence, Zeidan demanded that all militias “without exception” leave Tripoli, but the clashes underscored how little his fledgling military can do to curb ex-rebels, who have also shut down Libya’s oil exports for months.
Friday’s bloodshed, the worst in Tripoli for many months, began when militiamen from the city of Misrata fired at about 500 protesters demanding their eviction from the capital after they had fought rivals for control of city districts.
A Reuters reporter saw an anti-aircraft cannon firing from the “Gharghur brigades’” gated compound into the crowd as protesters chanted: “We don’t want armed militias!”
Demonstrators fled but then returned, heavily armed, to attack the compound, where the militiamen remained holed up past nightfall as fighting continued.
Dozens of soldiers in trucks tried to separate the sides, and sealed off roads to stop more people joining the clashes.
Heavy smoke could be seen rising from the scene in the Gharghur district.
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.
“ARMED GROUPS MUST LEAVE”
“The exit of armed groups from Tripoli is not something up for debate but necessary and urgently needed,” he told Reuters TV and the Libya Ahrar channel in an interview. He did not elaborate.
Libya’s turmoil and the weakness of its border controls are worrying its North African neighbors. France this week said it was considering offering more counter-terrorism training and aid to help Libya prevent militancy spilling over its frontiers.
The French intervention in neighboring Mali this year drove some Islamist militants with links to al Qaeda across the border into Libya’s lawless southern deserts, where the central government has little or no say.
So far, the capital has been spared the almost daily bombings and killings that plague Libya’s second city, Benghazi, in the east. But when clashes between rival militias do break out, the nascent armed forces are no match for them.
The Misrata gunmen had fought twice last week with a rival group that had detained one of their members for driving a car without number plates.
On Friday, air force planes circled overhead during the clashes. “We want to make sure the militia don’t bring in any reinforcements,” said army spokesman Ali al-Sheikhi.
Strikes and armed protests around the country by militia and tribal gunmen demanding payments or more autonomy rights have also shut much of the OPEC member’s oil output, depriving the government of its main source of income.
The authorities have tried to defuse the threat of the militias by placing them on the government payroll and assigning them to provide security.
But the gunmen often remain loyal mostly to their own commanders and fight for control of local areas, especially their weapons or drug smuggling rackets, or to settle personal feuds.
Zeidan was himself briefly abducted in October by a militia group on the government payroll.
(See: Zeidan’s “Abduction” a Hoax; Violence, Chaos and the Abduction of Zeidan are a Smokescreen Concealing the Imperial Agenda in Libya (Arabic) ; Ali Zeidan: War Criminal, Murderer, Traitor, Liar ; Ali Zeidan Was, Is and Remains a Traitor to Libya)