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Clashes erupt in Libya's Tripoli with heavy gunfire, blasts
Violent clashes erupted in the Libyan capital Tripoli since early Tuesday morning and lasted to Wednesday morning between rival militias, according to witnesses.
Heavy gunfire and explosions could be heard in the city, while roads in downtown Tripoli were closed, witnesses confirmed.
The fighting is between two militias loyal to the two rival governments in Tripoli: the UN-backed government of national accord and the deposed government of national salvation that is attempting to take over the city and get back to power.
Forces loyal to the UN-backed government issued a statement on Tuesday night warning "all fighting parties against continuing violence."
"Al-Bonian Al-Marsus forces call on all armed groups of all affiliations to stop the fighting, return to their headquarters, release all detainees, and open all blocked roads." The statement said.
According to witnesses, the clashes were sparked after two citizens were killed by an armed group in central Tripoli.
No official information was available regarding casualties. However, local media reports say the clashes killed and injured several people and caused considerable material damage.
"I call for immediate ceasefire in Tripoli. Civilians at grave risk in ongoing clashes," Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, tweeted on Tuesday.
"Repeated violence in Tripoli again demonstrates the need for united, professional security forces to protect the Libyan people."
Libya has been suffering escalating violence and chaos since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi's regime in 2011. The country is plagued with insecurity and violence as well as political division.
[Source: Xinhua, Tripoli, 15Mar17]
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