Armed clashes erupt in central Tripoli
TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) 3 Jan 2012 — Two former Libyan rebel factions clashed Tuesday in hours of gunbattles in central Tripoli that left five fighters dead, a Tripoli military council official said. Former rebels of Tripoli and a separate group of fighters from the city of Misrata fought with machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and anti-aircraft guns. Col. Walid Shouaib, a member of Tripoli Military Council, said the clashes were triggered by arrest of a Misrata fighter on New Year's Eve by Tripoli fighters. He was suspected of robbery and the Misrata fighters were trying to free him.
Disparate groups of former revolutionary fighters have clashed repeatedly since the end of the eight-month civil war that toppled Moammar Gadhafi's regime in October. Disbandment of these armed groups, which are divided by the regions where the operate, has posed a challenge to Libyan authorities. While playing a vital role in overseeing security of key state institutions in the capital, the uncontrolled ownership of weapons and the absence of a central security administration has given the militias a free hand in ruling areas under their control.
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