Clashes between rival militias in the Libyan capital have left residents trapped in their homes unable to escape the violence, the country’s health ministry said Tuesday, in what appears to be the most intense bout of fighting to rock Tripoli this year.
According to local media, fighting broke out between the 444 brigade and the Special Deterrence Force late Monday evening. Tensions flared after the head of the 444 brigade was allegedly detained by the other force at an airport in Tripoli earlier Monday, media reported.
In a statement, the Libyan health ministry called on the warring sides to allow ambulance and emergency teams to enter the affected areas — primarily in the south of the city — and for blood to be sent to nearby hospitals.
It remains unclear how many casualties there are. Libya’s Red Crescent has not responded to The Associated Press’ request for comment.
OPSGroup, an organization for the aviation industry, said late Monday that a large number of aircraft departed the capital due to the clashes. Inbound flights were diverting to the nearby city of Misrata, it said.
The escalation follows months of relative peace after nearly a decade of civil war in Libya, where two rival sets of authorities are locked in a political stalemate.
Longstanding divisions have sparked several incidents of violence in Tripoli in recent years, although most have been over in a matter of hours.