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Hundreds of people killed and injured in Libya over weekend

August 18, 2014, 18:08 UTC+3 CAIRO
Over 700 families have fled the shooting and shelling to Bani Walid 180 km southeast of Tripoli since Friday
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CAIRO, August 18. /ITAR-TASS/. Hundreds of people were killed and injured in fierce fighting in the Libyan capital over the weekend, local mass media said on Monday, citing medics in Tripoli.

On August 16 alone, some 60 people were killed and about 400 wounded. The Health Ministry refused to publish exact casualty statistics.

Fighting for the city’s international airport between Zintan Brigades which control it and Islamic militants from the Misrata-based Central Libya Shield has been going on since August 13, with oil tanks containing millions of tonnes of petroleum burning along the road to the airport.

Electricity and water supplies have been disrupted, there is a shortage of petroleum and diesel fuel. People are leaving the city. Over 700 families have fled the shooting and shelling to Bani Walid 180 km southeast of Tripoli since Friday.

In the middle of July, the Muslim Brotherhood and their allies began Operation Libya Dawn against the supporters of beleaguered Major General Khalifa Haftar who has been leading Operation Dignity against terrorists since the middle of May.

The radical groups were reported to have been tasked with taking the capital under control and taking additional precautions in case of unforeseen events related to the inauguration of a new permanent parliament called the House of Representatives and the transfer of power to it from the temporary legislative body, the General National Congress.

After that, the fighting in Tripoli and Benghazi, the second largest city in the country and the cradle of revolution, intensified.

Last night, warplanes without insignia were seen barraging over the capital. Eyewitnesses said they had attacked the warring militias’ positions on the southern and western outskirts and then flown away. It is not clear yet who had sent the aircraft.

Libya Dawn representatives said a jet fighter had fired at least two missiles at the militants’ bases, killing five rebels. Local media said the planes might have belonged to NATO, but these reports were immediately denied by the security services in Tripoli. However, they could not say where the aircraft had flown from, how many there were of them and where they had retreated after the bombing.

On August 13, the newly elected parliament voted for immediate UN-led international interference to protect civilians. The decision was made after the groups fighting against the government troops had refused to surrender and stop fighting.

The parliament also passed a bill outlawing irregular armed groups and cancelled all the previous resolutions and decrees concerning ex-revolutionaries, ordering their dissolution by December 31, 2014.

Militias are controlling large stocks of arms, including heavy weapons. But the regular army is too weak and has not been able to become a combat capable force that can restore law and order in the country.

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