By Moutaz Ali.
Tripoli, 23 February 2017:
Fierce clashes have broken out in Tripoli’s Abu Sleem district this afternoon between the local militia led by Abdul Ghani Al-Kikli (also known as Ghneiwa), and the largely Misratan and Islamist force known as the Salah Al-Burki Brgade.
Tanks and the use of heavy artillery have been seen by locals in the area.
Whilst the confirmed number of casualties is unconfirmed, some sources say at least eight dead bodies arrived in Abu Sleem hospital this evening. No names have been released other than Najib Ghurthab, a Burki commander.
Two burnt out cars were also reported.
The reasons behind the clashes are not completely clear, though it is thought the Burki Brigade wants to eject Ghneiwa out of the area. However, locals have told the Libya Herald that Ghneiwa had said he would die before he would leave.
With some Abu Sleem residents attempting to flee, the Libyan Red Crescent has told those trying to do so to stay at home. The Red Crescent has also set up an emergency phone number.
Nonetheless, residents are stuck inside their houses as the sound of explosions spread.
“It’s hell. The explosions are so strong. I have gathered my wife and kids in a relatively safe room in our house,” Kamal, a resident in Abu Salim told this paper.
“My wife has had to block the ears of our one-year-old baby because the loud gunshots have panicked him,” he added.
The Libyan National Guard, linked to Khalifa Ghwell, is also active both to the east and west of Abu Sleem. Control of it would give it full control of the Airport Road all the way from Tripoli to the reopened airport which the LNG now controls, as well as of the cross-Tripoli highway.
Elders from Tarhouna, 65 kilometres southeast of Tripoli, are reported to be mediating between the sides.