By Ashraf Abdul Wahab, Ahmed Elumami and Aimen Eljali.
Tripoli, 15 November 2013:
There are reports of further clashes in Tripoli today, with heavy . . .[restrict]fighting reported in the Gharghour area near the Airport Road.
There are unconfirmed reports that at least five people have died and many more have been seriously injured in fighting that started at around 3 pm and was ongoing at 7pm.
“The situation here is very bad,” one local resident told the Libya Herald. “I have seen about ten people shot and I am sure some of them are dead.” He added that he had tried to leave the area but was unable to do so because the fighting was so heavy.
“Every type of weapon is being used here,” he said.
Military jets have been heard flying overhead and there are unconfirmed reports that they have been fired at from the ground.
The clashes erupted after hundreds of Tripoli residents took to the streets in what was to have been peaceful protests against the presence of armed groups in Tripoli, following last week’s clashes between Tripoli and Misrata armed groups. Those planning the demonstration had said they would evict armed brigades, understood to be mainly from Misrata, in the Gharghour area if they had not left voluntarily by today.
Protestors set off from outside Al-Quds Mosque carrying white and Libyan flags. However, what was to have been a peaceful protest turned into violent clashes after Gharghour militias allegedly opened fire on protestors.
The commander of the Misrata militia at Gharghour, Taha Bashaga, speaking on television, claimed that protestors were armed and opened fire first. He insisted that the Misrata brigades would not leave Tripoli until the country had a constitution. “We will leave only in our coffins,” he said.
Reports from local hospitals describe the situation as chaotic. One hospital was reported to be treating more than 50 injured people and urgently calling for people to donate blood.
Sporadic gunfire and explosions continue to be heard in other areas of Tripoli. [/restrict]