On Saturday, rival Libyan factions engaged in armed confrontations in the vicinity of the intersection of the main coastal road leading to Tripoli, outside the Libyan city of Misrata.
Rival forces allied to the two main sides in a political standoff over control of the Libyan government have mobilized in the city in recent days, according to residents.
Tensions have been rising for months in Libya as two Prime Ministers vie for power; raising fears of renewed conflict two years after a landmark truce in 2020.
Libya has been gripped by insecurity since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime leader Moammar Gaddafi in 2011, leaving a power vacuum armed groups have been wrangling for years to fill.
Notably, the clashes were renewed in the Libyan capital on Friday between the largest militias in Tripoli. They used medium and heavy weapons during the clashes. As a result, the Mitiga international Airport was closed for fear of shells and missiles falling inside it.
According to the Spokesperson for the Ambulance and Emergency Services, Osama Ali, the death toll have raised 16 people, including 6 civilians and over 52 were injured during the clashes.
Both groups involved in the fighting are nominally loyal to Abdurhamid Al-Dbaiba’s Government of National Unity (GNU), appointed last year as part of a United Nations (UN)-backed peace process to end more than a decade of violence in oil-rich Libya.
Al-Dbaiba has refused to cede power to Fathi Bashagha, named in February as Prime Minister by a Parliament based in Libya’s East.
The UN Secretary General’s Adviser to Libya, Stephanie Williams, has expressed her outrage regarding the violence that erupted in Tripoli, as civilians, including women and children at a wedding celebration were killed during the clashes.
She said on Friday that the indiscriminate use of weapons in a heavily populated, urban area without safeguarding civilians is a grave violation of international humanitarian law and a sanctionable offense.
“This fighting must stop! Civilians must be protected and perpetrators held accountable,” she added.
The United States (US) Ambassador to Libya, Richard Norland, also called for the warring parties to exercise restraint and preserve stability for the protection of civilians.
Norland stressed that all actors must resolve their disputes through dialogue, not violence. He added that he supports the calls of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) for all parties to maintain stability.