By Saber Ayyub and Ajnadin Mustafa.
Tripoli, 6 October 2015:
Protests against abductions have closed the coastal road west of Tripoli in two . . .[restrict]separate incidents.
In Zawia, members of the Abu Obeida militia yesterday dug up the road over the seizure of colleagues, allegedly at checkpoints manned by Warshafanis and Zintanis.
Meanwhile in the west Tripoli suburb of Ghut Shaal, today a group of armed youths blocked the road with burning tyres following the arrest last night of man by the Rada (“Deterrence”) forces of Abdul Raouf Kara following what appears to have been a turf war between two gangs in the area.
One of the two groups involved in the Ghut Shaal protest are said to be from a Kikla militia and nominally supporters of Libya Dawn and the authorities in Tripoli. It is claimed, nevertheless, that the man arrested had earlier been involved in clashes with another Dawn militia, the Obeidat militia, following a squabble between the two.
Today’s road closures are said to have been organised by the arrested man’s brother. There are also unconfirmed reports that some of the armed protestors have tried to break into a local bank.
The incident is seen as underlining the inability of the regime in Tripoli including the General National Congress to enforce its authority over its supporters and area it supposedly controls.
The more serious road closure in Zawia follows the agreement at the end of last month between Warshefana military leader Omar Tantoush and a number of leaders of local militias in the north west of the country. These are now allied to the Libyan National Army’s Zintan-based Tripoli Operations Room (covering north western Libya) and referred to as “LNA-supported forces”. Under the agreement he was given overall control of all their checkpoints. This was then followed by an agreement between him and Zawia Military Council supported by local elders in which they agreed to remove their checkpoints.
Tantoush was earlier ordered by the Tripoli Operations Room to take control of all checkpoints on the coast road and secure it.
His agreement with the Zawia Military Council is firmly opposed by militants in Zawia under the control of Abu Obeida Al-Zawi, likewise allied to the Tripoli regime and still holding sway in much of the town. They are alleged to be behind yesterday’s road closures.
It is claimed that their waining power is the real reason for the closures, with the abductions playing a secondary role.
All sides, including Abu Obeida’s fighters, are reported to have been involved in abductions at checkpoints. [/restrict]