By Ashraf Abdul Wahab.
Janzour, Tripoli, 21 January 2014:
Heavy firing around Najila, south of Tripoli’s suburb of Jazour, continued today with at . . .[restrict]last one elderly woman killed when the taxi she was traveling in was hit by a missile. Fifteen other people are reported to have been injured, a number of them civilians.
The fighting started two days ago when security forces were dispatched to the area to arrest 177 people wanted by the public prosecutor to face charges of kidnapping, carjacking and other crimes. However, although they managed to arrest some 30 individuals, they encountered far stronger resistance than expected and 11 people were killed in fighting on Sunday including Mohamed Kara, brother the former SSC commander Abdul Raouf Kara.
In today’s continuing dragnet, four more suspects are reported to have been arrested. They were said to have been trying to escape from a farm near Najila. However, despite the deployment of more army units in the area yesterday as well as tanks, there was no let-up in fighting which remained intense as local armed forces allegedly rallied to the defence of the alleged criminals.
Last night sources close to the defenders said that they expected Misrati forces to be sent to the area and were prepared to use Katyusha rockets in response. Today, it was reported that at least 20 such rockets as well as other missiles were fired.
There are, however, also claims of indiscriminate firing by the security forces. One rocket is said to have hit a residential building in Najila, another to have landed in west Tripoli’s Dreibi district, where a missile also landed last night. No one is reported to have been injured in the Dreibi attacks.
The elderly women who died today, who has not been named, was in a taxi in Najila when it was hit. The driver is in intensive care in Abu Sleem hospital.
The clashes are taking place in the Warshefana area and Warshefana Shura Council said this afternoon that it had called on the government to stop the dragnet and what it called attacks on civilians. It claims that the government, in response, had said that it never ordered the operation.
Meanwhile, there are fears in the west end of Janzour, at Sayad, five kilometres away, that the clashes will spread there. The main road heading west toward Zawia is already all but empty of traffic and some residents this afternoon said that they have been advised to stay elsewhere this evening. [/restrict]