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Clashes between militias in Libya’s capital left at least 23 people dead, sparking concern the OPEC nation that has two rival governments is descending into another full-blown conflict.
Fighting that erupted early Saturday spread to several parts of Tripoli, with the Health Ministry saying a further 140 people had been wounded. The United Nations and US ambassador called for an immediate cease-fire.
The violence shatters a fragile peace that had been in place in much of Libya since mid-2020, but has come under increasing strain after UN-backed presidential polls scheduled for December were postponed. This year has seen a standoff between Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah’s administration in Tripoli and a rival one led by Fathi Bashagha, who has parliament’s backing and also claims the premiership. Both are supported by powerful militias.
Dbeibah’s government in a statement accused a militia of enacting what it described as recent threats by Bashagha to seize the capital by force, saying it was in talks to spare Tripoli from bloodshed. Bashagha’s side denied there were any talks with Dbeibah.
More violence in the North African nation threatens to derail its recent rebound in crude production, which has climbed to about 1.2 million barrels a day as of late July after months of politically-motivated blockades of oil fields and ports. Extra shipments had alleviated some of the pressure on a stressed European energy market.
(Updates numbers of killed and wounded in first two paragraphs.)
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