Clashes and Car Bombing Highlight Insecurity Across Libya

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CAIRO -- At least five people were wounded Sunday when rival Libyan militias clashed with heavy weapons in Tripoli, according to Libyan officials, highlighting the dangers posed by thousands of armed men who refuse to yield to the new government's control.

Also on Sunday, in another sign of Libya's persistent insecurity, a car bomb exploded outside a police station in the eastern city of Benghazi, wounding at least three police officers, Reuters reported.

The fighting in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, was the latest in a string of violent episodes that are contributing to a growing sense of lawlessness and stoking fears that Libya's fledgling government is incapable of securing the country more than a year after its former leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, was killed.

In September, after weeks of mysterious assassinations in Benghazi, members of a powerful militia attacked a United States diplomatic mission. Last month, militias fighting under the government's banner laid siege to the western city of Bani Walid, shelling the town during what residents said was a week of indiscriminate attacks.

The details of the latest violence are familiar: groups armed with guns and rocket-propelled grenades fought on residential streets, and militia members set fire to a security building. The reasons for the clashes were opaque. Interior Ministry officials said they had started with an attempt to disarm a rogue militia whose members were accused of torture, while witnesses told Reuters that the fighting had started during a dispute between rival militias over the detention of a member of one of the groups. A doctor at Tripoli Central Hospital told the news agency that five wounded people were brought there after the clashes.

Though officials routinely blame such violence on remnants of the Qaddafi government, the militias fighting on Sunday were nominally under the new government's control. Reuters reported that the militias were part of the Supreme Security Committee, an umbrella organization for armed groups run by the Interior Ministry that has emerged as a rival to other government security agencies, including the police.

Mai Ayyad contributed reporting.

world

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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