By Ali Salem.
Tripoli, 16 November 2014:
Two Libya Dawn guards at Mitiga where killed during clashes in the early . . .[restrict]hours of this morning as fighting forced the closure of the airport with all flights currently suspended.
The two Dawn militiamen, reportedly brothers, were killed because of their involvement in a Tajoura family feud, a resident from the area told the Libya Herald.
Following sporadic clashes in Tajoura yesterday between supporters and opponents of Libya Dawn, residents, many of whom were armed, decided to march on Mitiga. Clashes erupted at the airport itself at around 3 am resulting in the two deaths, another eye witness reported. On and off fighting has continued in Tajoura into the afternoon.
Officials at Mitiga have said that flights will resume at 4 pm so long as the situation allows. The airport’s director, Abu Bakr Abu Hamida, said the closure was the result of “an armed conflict between two families in Tajoura”. Hamida added that the airport was now secure.
The killing of the two Libya Dawn fighters was apparently revenge for the deaths of two brothers from the Jabri family in Tajoura. It is unclear exactly when the brothers were killed but a resident from the area explained that they had died following a shooting at a Libya Dawn checkpoint.
The violence around Mitiga followed small but vocal protests across the capital in opposition to the presence of armed groups and in remembrance of the Gharhour massacre a year ago. Forty-nine protestors were killed and hundreds injured last year by Misratan militias as they participated in peaceful demonstrations demanding that revolutionary brigades not belonging to Tripoli leave the capital.
Protests took place yesterday in Algeria Square and Al-Quds Square with the families of those killed at Gharghour holding pictures of them.
Libya Dawn, which declared the protests illegal, cut internet coverage across the city during the day in what was seen as a bis to prevent protesters coordinating their activities. Members of the coalition of Islamist and Islamist-leaning militias took control of the headquarters of Libya Telecom and Technology, turning off Mi-fi and Wifi services. Residents reported that internet coverage was cut in some places for over five hours.
There was a visible police presence in the streets of Tripoli with Libya Dawn road blocks reportedly in place from Zawiat Al-Dahmani to Al-Quds Square to intimidate the demonstrations. The tactics appear broadly to have been successful.
One Tripoli resident who decided not to protest yesterday explained that “Libya Dawn has managed to sew fear in our hearts”. In the days leading up to the protests the coalition said it would respond to demonstrations on 15 November with “all the force of God”.
There have been unconfirmed reports of clashes at Tripoli University between students opposed to Libya Dawn and those supporting it.