x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Libyan protesters keep pressure on militias

Hundreds of university students march to a central square in the capital, chanting against militias and demanding that the national army and police assert themselves.

Libyan citizens cheer police after forces were ordered to be deployed to maintain security in Tripoli. Sabri El-Mhedwi / EPA
Libyan citizens cheer police after forces were ordered to be deployed to maintain security in Tripoli. Sabri El-Mhedwi / EPA

TRIPOLI // Hundreds of Libyan university students marched yesterday to a central square in the capital, chanting against militias and demanding that the national army and police assert themselves.

The protest was the latest show of public outrage against armed groups following deadly shootings Friday outside the headquarters of a militia from the western city of Misurata.

Some policemen took part in the march.

Tripoli police chief Mohammed Sweisi said that the death toll from that shooting had risen to 47, with 516 wounded.

Some marchers chanted, “Libya is not [war] booty.”

Friday’s clashes drew international condemnation of the rising power militias have usurped since they toppled the dictator Muammar Qaddafi in a 2011 war.

The UN’s human rights office yesterday condemned violence in Tripoli and urged the country’s government to bring the perpetrators to justice.

“We condemn the use of violence against peaceful demonstrators,” said Ravina Shamdasani, the spokeswoman for the UN high commissioner for human rights.

“We urge all sides to exercise the utmost restraint to avoid the escalation of violence and engage in peaceful dialogue.”

Ms Shamdasani said the UN was deeply concerned that several individuals were reportedly taken prisoner by the militias during the clashes, calling for their immediate release or, if appropriate, their transfer to the justice authorities.

“We call upon the Libyan authorities to launch a prompt, impartial and independent investigation into the violent incidents and to ensure that those found responsible for unlawful killings and other human rights abuses are brought to justice.”

Some militias from outside Tripoli have pulled out following the shooting and some clashes with local armed groups.

* Associated Press with additional reporting by Agence France-Presse