Rival militias wage turf war near Tripoli
One local official was killed and a militia base reduced to ruins in a clash between rival armed groups near the Libyan capital, the latest flare-up of tension between militias that is destabilising the new Libya.
Two months after Muammar Gaddafi was killed, Libya's new government is still unable to impose its authority on the ground.
The violence in Janzour, a town about 17 km west of the capital, demonstrated that these militias remain the biggest threat to Libya's security despite attempts by the newly-formed interim government to get them under control.
The incident began early on Friday morning, when Ashraf Abdelsalam Al-Marni Swayha, deputy head of the Janzour military council, approached a checkpoint in the town with his driver.
The checkpoint was manned by a militia unit made up largely of fighters from Zintan, played a big role in ousting Gaddafi.
According to Abdelnasser Frandah, head of the local council in Janzour, when the fighters at the checkpoint stopped Swayha's car, he told them he was deputy head of the local militia.
"They answered him: 'We do not care about the Janzour military council.' He ordered his driver to go and they started shooting at him," Frandah told Reuters yesterday. "He fell as a martyr and the driver was slightly injured."
In a report released last week, the United Nations identified Libya's disparate militias as "a major challenge continuing to face the National Transitional Council," the interim leadership which replaced Gaddafi.
Following some recent incidents, the transitional council convened tribal leaders at a conference aimed at reconciling rival groups. But the latest violence in Janzour suggests that the conference did not work.