TRIPOLI, Libya – Soldiers and government-affiliated militias stormed a military base occupied by gunmen in Libya’s capital on Saturday, sparking fresh fighting that left four dead a day after a deadly militia attack on protesters.
Armed residents and pro-government militiamen have set up checkpoints across Tripoli, as thousands of protesters gathered in the city center to mourn the 43 killed in Friday’s attack when militias fired on a crowd urging the dissolution of unlawful armed groups.
Friday’s demonstrations had been the biggest show of public anger over militias in months. Some 500 people were also wounded there, health officials said. On Saturday, some residents of Tripoli have said they will go on strike until unlawful militias are disbanded.
Since the fall of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, hundreds of militias have sprung up across Libya, carving out zones of power, defying state authority and launching violent attacks. The government has tried to incorporate them into the fledgling police force and army but failed.
Saturday’s violence started at dawn when militiamen from Misrata raided the base in the Tajoura neighborhood, taking arms and ammunition before escaping to the outskirts of the city, Col. Musbah al-Harna told state news agency LANA.
A fighter on the government side said one of his comrades was shot dead in the fighting. A hospital official later said that three others were killed and 13 people were wounded.
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