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Fresh clashes in Tripoli threaten fragile ceasefire

Both groups denied they agreed to the truce which ended four days of fierce fighting in Tripoli between pro-unity government forces and rival militias.

Fresh clashes broke out yesterday in the Libyan capital hours after armed groups signed a ceasefire deal ending a four-day battle for control of Tripoli.

Gunfire was reportedly heard in the southern neighbourhood of Hadba Al-Khadra according to residents and social media users.

It was not clear who was responsible for the clashes due to Tripoli’s differing factions fighting for control.

Read: Early elections called as fears of escalating violence grip Libya

The fresh fighting followed the denouncement of two powerful armed groups, Thowar Tarabulus and the Abu Slim Brigade, of the ceasefire announced by the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).

Both groups denied they agreed to the truce which ended four days of fierce fighting in Tripoli between pro-unity government forces and rival militias.

TRIPOLI, LIBYA - MARCH 15: Burnt vehicles are seen after Tripoli-based salvation government's TV channel was burned down by a group of gunmen in Tripoli, Libya on March 15, 2017. ( Hazem Turkia - Anadolu Agency )

TRIPOLI, LIBYA – MARCH 15: Burnt vehicles are seen after Tripoli-based salvation government’s TV channel was burned down by a group of gunmen in Tripoli, Libya on March 15, 2017. ( Hazem Turkia – Anadolu Agency )

Calls for a ceasefire

The truce deal which was signed by the GNA and local mayors and militias from Tripoli Mistrata was seen as cementing the UN-backed government’s control over large parts of the capital.

It called for an “immediate ceasefire” and for armed groups who reject the GNA to leave Tripoli within the next month and the release of all those arrested since Monday, the GNA’s defence ministry confirmed.

However Thowar Tarabulus released a statement on their Facebook page stating that the “agreement signed in the presence of the presidential council does not represent us”.

Read: Libyan group is ready to fight anyone stealing the country’s oil

The Abu Slim Brigade also released a separate online statement: “we did not sign the [ceasefire] agreement… we will only accept full solutions”.

The clashes were triggered on Monday night after the killing of a bank guard and pro-GNA forces expanding their control in the capital from rival militias including groups allied with Khalifa Al-Ghawil, forced from power when the GNA arrived in Tripoli.

Yesterday’s ceasefire deal stipulates that the GNA forces will have to secure areas controlled by rival groups- a measure in line with an inter-Libyan political deal that was last signed in December 2015.

The GNA will see heavy weapons withdrawn in order for its security forces to operate effectively.

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