Tripoli: Fresh clashes erupted in Tripoli today as the death toll from a shootout at an anti-militia protest rose to 43 and the weak, post-revolutionary government appealed for restraint.
More than 450 people were wounded when yesterday`s protest sparked clashes in the capital between rival militias that continued through the night, Justice Minister Salah al-Marghani said.
Prime Minister Ali Zeidan appealed for "restraint and a halt to the clashes", warning that the entry of more armed groups into the volatile city could only "further complicate the situation".
"The coming hours and days will be decisive for the history of Libya and the success of the revolution," stressed Zeidan, who was himself abducted by militiamen and held for several hours last month.
Libya has seen a surge in unrest as former rebels who helped end Moamer Kadhafi`s four decades of dictatorship have scoffed at government demands to lay down their arms or join the security forces.
The latest violence erupted when protesters carrying white flags marched on a cluster of villas that serve as the Tripoli base of the Misrata brigade -- made up of battle-hardened fighters from the western city of the same name -- and demanded that they leave the capital.
Gunmen opened fire from inside the villas, killing several protesters and prompting rival militias to attack the base, setting part of it ablaze and briefly expelling the Misrata fighters.
The western city of Misrata, Libya`s third largest, saw some of the fiercest fighting of the 2011 uprising, and its fighters eventually advanced to Tripoli as Kadhafi`s regime crumbled.
Reinforcements rolled into the capital overnight from the militia`s headquarters in Misrata, 200 kilometres away, and retook the base in Ghargour as explosions and gunfire echoed across the city.
The Misrata brigade attacked an army barracks early today, setting off clashes in which one person was killed and eight wounded, according to Colonel Mosbah al-Harna, commander of a brigade nominally under the authority of the defence ministry.