Gun Battles in Libyan Capital Leave 32 Dead, Hundreds Wounded

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Intense fighting on the streets of Tripoli between Libyan militia groups and armed residents left at least 32 people dead and nearly 400 people wounded on Friday. It's the worst violence in the city in months, arguably since the 2011 overthrow of  Moammar Gaddafi. The fighting reportedly began as militia members opened fire on peaceful protestors calling for the groups to leave the capital city. Many demonstrators left the protests, only to return with weapons. 

The government of the country's new Prime Minister Ali Zeidan is trying to bring the country's disparate militia presence under control, or alternately expel the groups from the country. But that's not an easy task. The Washington Post reported on the country's struggle to handle the groups in September, noting that the militia groups once lauded for their role in deposing the country's former dictator haven't stopped engaging in armed battles in the years since then. The country's security following the overthrow was more or less left in their hands, as the weak central government had little at their disposal to to keep order. But many see that arrangement as counterproductive to the country's desire to move forward following Gaddafi's reign. Attempts to have the militias join the country's relatively small military have been largely unsuccessful. 

After the deadly fighting, Zeidan gave a televised speech demanding that all militia groups leave the country. But it's unclear if the government is even capable of enforcing that order. Zeidan himself has had a run-in with the militia groups in the country: in October, the leader was briefly seized by a militia group, only to be released hours later, apparently unharmed. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.