'7th Brigade' Declares ‘Military Coup’ against Militias in Libyan Capital
Security continued to deteriorate in the Libyan capital Tripoli as clashes between rival militias persisted for a second week.
Spokesman for the Brigade, Abdul Salam Ashour urged in a statement the government and security forces to exercise their duties.
Ashour is interior minister of the Government of National Accord (GNA), which is headed by Fayez al-Sarraj.
The Brigade announced that its forces were advancing steadily on Tripoli.
In what could be interpreted as a military coup, the Brigade “reassured the residents of Tripoli, all sovereign institutions and diplomatic missions that its advance was aimed at protecting these institutions and ridding them of militias.”
The weeks-long fighting in Libya pits the 7th Brigade, which was marching from the city of Tarhuna, against the Tripoli Revolutionaries and “Special Deterrence – Abou Salim” force, both of which are linked to the GNA.
The GNA had labeled the 7th Brigade as an outlawed group.
Sarraj’s deputy, Ahmed Maiteeq had held talks with Ashour to discuss the situation in the capital.
A governments statement said that the minister had presented the measures and decisions taken by his ministry to restore calm in Tripoli.
Presidential Council of the GNA had declared on Sunday a state of emergency in Tripoli in wake of the clashes.
On Monday, authorities blocked Facebook as part of a clampdown on reports about the fighting.
Some reports claimed that the violence had reached the vicinity of the GNA headquarters, forcing Sarraj to flee to the naval base in the capital. A GNA official denied the claims.
Witnesses said that a number of gunmen had attacked the headquarters and clashed with the security guards.
On the political level, the Tubrok-based parliament said that the unrest in Tripoli led to the postponement of a legislative session, set for Monday, that was aimed at amending the Constitutional Declaration. The meeting was postponed to next week.
At least 41 people have been killed and 128 wounded in the Tripoli fighting.
Meanwhile, the Italian foreign ministry announced that it was reducing the number of its diplomatic staff in Libya. Diplomatic sources in Rome said that the embassy in Tripoli will remain functional.
Local diplomats and media reported that Italy had evacuated 18 embassy employees.
Russia, meanwhile, called on rival militias to cease their hostilities and prevent the country from slipping towards chaos.