The death toll from deadly clashes between rival governments’ supporters in Libya’s capital has climbed to 23, sparking fears that the country could submerge deeper into yet another cycle of incessant violence.
The fatalities were caused during a gun and bombing battle across various districts in Tripoli throughout late Friday and Saturday, AFP reported.
The confrontation took place between the supporters of the government of Abdulhamid Dbeibah, which is headquartered in the city, and the rival administration of former interior minister Fathi Bashagha that is based in the country’s east.
The two sides traded blame for the violence leading to the bloodletting that also wounded at least 140 others, said the health ministry in Tripoli.
Six hospitals were also damaged during the melee, with plumes of smoke billowing out of them.
The United Nations' Libya mission called for "an immediate cessation of hostilities," citing "ongoing armed clashes including indiscriminate medium and heavy shelling in civilian-populated neighborhoods."
Dbeibah's Government of National Unity said negotiations had been underway to "hold elections at the end of the year to resolve the political crisis," but that Bashagha had "walked out at the last moment."
Bashagha denied such talks had taken place, and accused Dbeibah's "illegitimate" administration of "clinging to power."
The North African country has been beset by violence and chaos since the overthrow and killing of its long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi following a bombing campaign by the United States-led military alliance of NATO in 2011.
The resulting chaos and factional divisions then escalated into a regional proxy war fueled by foreign powers that poured weapons and mercenaries into the country.