The death toll in this week’s clashes between rival militias in Libya’s capital rose to 45 on Wednesday as troops fanned out across Tripoli to restore calm after a 24-hour bout of fighting that was the city’s most intense violence this year.
The clashes erupted late on Monday between militiamen from the 444 brigade and the Special Deterrence Force, and continued into Tuesday evening. Tensions flared after Mahmoud Hamza, a senior commander of the 444 brigade, was allegedly detained by the rival group at an airport in Tripoli, according to local media reports. Hamza was later released as part of deal aimed at quelling the violence, the reports said.
The death toll rose Wednesday to 45, up from the 27 dead reported Tuesday, as more casualties were confirmed, said Malek Merset, the spokesperson for Libya’s Emergency Medicine and Support Center. An additional 146 were injured, up from 106 on Tuesday. It remains unclear how many of the dead were militiamen or civilians.
Libyan security forces patrolled the streets and fanned out across Tripoli on Wednesday. The country’s Interior Ministry said security forces were deployed to areas where the fighting was most intense, including the southern Fernaj neighborhood and the al-Shouk Road. A situation room had been set up to monitor developments, but by Wednesday a tentative calm had returned to the city.