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Libya`s capital goes on strike over militia attack

Last Updated: Monday, November 18, 2013 - 12:21

Tripoli: Residents of the Libyan capital have launched a general strike and held protests, demanding the city`s myriad of powerful militias be disbanded after violence in which nearly 50 people were killed over the weekend.

Tripoli residents are seething with anger over the violence that erupted Friday, particularly directed at powerful militias from the western city of Misrata operating in the capital.

The violence broke out when thousands of protesters marched on a neighborhood controlled by a number of powerful Misrata militias, prompting some militiamen to open fire, killing 43 people.

A day later, another militia attempted to overrun a military base, resulting in a clash with government forces that left four dead.

In an apparent angry response at the popular pressure, Misrata`s city council announced late yesterday that it is withdrawing its representatives from the interim national parliament and from the Cabinet. Misrata has at least two ministers in the government: the economy and culture ministers.

The Misrata city council also called on all armed groups, even those who are working under the government, to withdraw from the capital for a 72-hour period.

In its statement, the Misrata city council held the government responsible for the security situation in Tripoli and for the safety of citizens originally from Misrata. There was no immediate government reaction to the decision.

Earlier yesterday, a security official said the deputy intelligence chief was abducted as he left Tripoli`s airport. It was not clear who abducted Mustafa Nouh, whose family is originally from Misrata.

Public anger had been directed at the militias from Misrata, who had developed a strong presence in the capital following the fall of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

Except for several protests, streets were deserted as the vast majority of Tripoli`s businesses and schools were closed, with bakeries, pharmacies, hospitals and gas stations the main exception.

The head of Tripoli`s city council, Al-Sadat al-Badri, said the strike is to last three days.

Fearing renewed violence, armed residents have set up checkpoints to protect their neighbourhoods.

Yesterday, nearly a hundred protesters entered the parliament building while lawmakers were in session, demanding legislation to disband the militias and forcing the session to break up.

First Published: Monday, November 18, 2013 - 12:21

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