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|Libya has declared a state of emergency as the air force attacked gunmen in the remote south to end unrest between rival armed groups that have been clashing for days.
The General National Congress, Libya’s highest political authority, took the decision on Saturday during an “extraordinary session” after the parliament put the army on alert as gunmen stormed the air force base, Tamenhant, near the southern city of Sabha, an official said.
“A force was readied, then aircraft moved and took off and dealt with the targets,” Abdul-Raziq al-Shabahi, defence ministry spokesman, told reporters in Tripoli.
He said the army was tracking the attackers after they fled into the desert.
Earlier on Saturday, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said a small group of gunmen had entered the air force base outside Sabha, 770km south of the capital Tripoli, but the government was in control of the town and its civilian airport.
“This confrontation (at the air base) is continuing but in a few hours it will be solved,” the prime minister told a televised address, without elaborating.
Zeidan said he had sent his defence minister to Misrata to instruct troops based there to move to the south.
“The troops from Misrata have been commissioned by the government to conduct a national task … to spread security and stability in the region,” he said in the address.
Local sources said the clashes that started last week were sparked by the death of a rebel chief linked to the Awled Sleiman, adding that the tribe accused the Toubou of murdering him.
The Toubou are black oasis farmers by tradition who also live in southern Libya, northern Chad and Niger, who have repeatedly said they were being marginalised.
Western powers fear the OPEC producer will slide into instability as the government struggles to contain heavily-armed groups and tribesmen who helped topped Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 but refuse to disarm.
Armed groups, demanding autonomy for eastern Libya, have invited foreign companies to buy oil from ports they have seized in defiance of the central government in Tripoli. As Reuters reports, “If a ship docks in one of the closed ports,” warned Libya’s defense ministry, “then we will destroy it,” but the group, led by tribal leader and 2011 civil war hero Ibrahim Jathran, shrugged off Tripoli’s warning, stating “we welcome global oil companies … The oil security guards will guarantee the safety of tankers.” The development adds to an air of chaos as the weak Tripoli government struggles to rein in the armed groups that helped oust Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 but which kept their guns and are now demanding political power and a bigger share of the country’s oil wealth.
Via gCaptain (Reuters),
Armed groups demanding autonomy for eastern Libya have invited foreign companies to buy oil from ports they have seized in defiance of the central government in Tripoli.
In an announcement on Tuesday, they also pledged to protect tankers loading crude, after the Libyan defence ministry said it would destroy vessels using ports in the east, which are under control of the protesters linked to a self-proclaimed regional government.
On Monday, the Libyan navy said it fired warning shots at a tanker trying to load oil at the eastern port of Es-Sider, which was seized with two other terminals by the autonomy group in August. The three harbours accounted previously for 600,000 barrels a day.
But the group, led by tribal leader and 2011 civil war hero Ibrahim Jathran, shrugged off Tripoli’s warning by inviting foreign companies to buy eastern oil.
“We welcome global oil companies … The oil security guards will guarantee the safety of tankers,” said Abd-Rabbo al-Barassi, prime minister of Jathran’s self-declared government in the eastern Cyrenaica region.
Workers at the seized ports had returned to work, he said. A newly founded oil company called Libya Oil and Gas Corp would be dealing with potential buyers. A new army and coast guard, made up of Jathran’s battle-hardened fighters, would secure the ports.
Libya’s defence ministry had earlier warned potential buyers against any docking at the seized ports. “If a ship docks in one of the closed ports, and it does not leave the port again, then we will destroy it,” said Defence Ministry spokesman Said Abdul Razig al-Shbahi.
The risks of an escalation were clear over the weekend when the Libyan navy said it opened fire on a vessel trying to reach Es-Sider before the tanker, Baku, turned back to Malta.
The confrontation has raised worries that Libya, also struggling with Islamist militias and armed tribesmen, might break apart as Cyrenaica and the southern Fezzan region demand political autonomy.
Assassination pushes Libya towards civil war two years after Gaddafi death | World news | The Observer
Libya marks the second anniversary of the death of Muammar Gaddafi with the country on the brink of a new civil war and fighting raging in the eastern city of Benghazi, birthplace of its Arab spring revolution.
Violence between radical militias and regular forces broke out on Friday night and continued yesterday, while the capital Tripoli is braced for fallout from the kidnapping earlier this month of prime minister Ali Zaidan. Federalists in Cyrenaica, home to most of Libya’s oil, open their own independent parliament in Benghazi this week, in a step that may herald the breakup of the country.
For months, radical militias and regular forces in Benghazi have fought a tit-for-tat war. Last week two soldiers had their throats slit as they slept in an army base. But Friday’s killing of Libya’s military police commander, Ahmed al-Barghathi, shot as he left a mosque, has became the trigger for wider violence. Hours after an assassination branded a “heinous act” by US ambassador Deborah Jones, armed units stormed the Benghazi home of a prominent militia commander, Wissam Ben Hamid, with guns and rockets.
Fighting continued into the night, with army units heading for the home of a second militia commander, Ahmed Abu Khattala, indicted by the US for the killing of US ambassador Chris Stevens last year. There, they were turned back by powerful militia units.
“There’s fighting everywhere, checkpoints everywhere, I’ve moved my wife and children to somewhere safe,” said one Benghazi businessman, Mohammed, who declined to give his second name.
Ben Hamid went on live television to insist he had no role in the killing of al-Barghathi, and vowed reprisals against those who destroyed his home.
Libya’s militias are in the spotlight as never before, in a country racked by violence and economic stagnation. Zaidan has blamed the Revolutionaries Control Room, headquarters for the biggest militia – Libya Shield – for his kidnapping 10 days ago, promising harsh measures once the Eid religious holiday week ends.
Shield forces deployed in the capital denied staging the abduction, but their units were this weekend fortifying their positions in fear of attack.
The trigger for this spiralling violence was the arrest two weeks ago by Delta Force commandos of al-Qaida suspect, Anas al Liby, from his Tripoli home. That arrest has polarised opinion between supporters and opponents of Zeidan, and Nato, which bombed the rebels to victory in the 2011 Arab spring, has found itself in the hot seat over plans to train a new government army. Britain is to join the US and Italy in training Libyan army cadres at a base in Cambridgeshire.
- Obama’s Libya Working Out About as Well as We Expected (theuniversalspectator.wordpress.com)
- Assassination pushes Libya towards civil war two years after Gaddafi death (fromthetrenchesworldreport.com)
- Libya On The Brink Of Civil War (warnewsupdates.blogspot.com)
- Gunman assassinate Libya commander (bbc.co.uk)
- News From Occupied Libya 16-20/10/2013 (libyaagainstsuperpowermedia.com)
First it was the Americans. Now it is the Russians’ turn. Al Arabiya reports (and Itar-Tass confirms) that “Gunmen attacked the Russian embassy in the Libyan capital Tripoli on Wednesday, Al Arabiya correspondent reported. The sound of gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades could be heard around the embassy, the correspondent added. No further details were immediately available.” According to unverified reports on Twitter, the embassy had been evacuated before the attack (the Russian NSA appears to be more efficient than its US equivalent).
The Russian embassy in Tripoli:
The Russian embassy in Tripoli, Libya, has come under fire and there were attempts to get into Russia’s diplomatic compound, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement….
- Tripoli: Russian Embassy Attacked in Libyan Capital (theepochtimes.com)
- One dead in Russian embassy storming in Libya’s Tripoli (worldbulletin.net)
- Russian Embassy in Libya attacked by armed mob, 1 Libyan killed (foxnews.com)
- Russian Embassy in Libya comes under fire, attack repelled (news.yahoo.com)
- Car bomb explodes in Libya’s Benghazi (worldbulletin.net)
- Police station bombed in Libya’s Benghazi in east (dailystar.com.lb)
- Bomb near hospital kills 9 people in eastern Libya (thenewstribune.com)
- Bomb explodes outside police station in Liby’s Benghazi (panarmenian.net)
- Ostrow: Al Jazeera English is often ahead of the curve in its coverage of Libya (nextlevelofnews.com)
- The Lingering Repercussions of NATO’s Stupid War in Libya (antiwar.com)
- US, Britain withdraw staff from Libya (bigpondnews.com)
- UK embassy withdraws staff from Libya (rinf.com)
- Britian temporarily withdraws some staff from Libya (worldbulletin.net)
- Libya Uncertainty Leads British Embassy To Withdraw Some Staff (eurasiareview.com)
- US, Britain withdraw some staff from Libya amid unrest (nst.com.my)