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Heavy gunfire in Libya's capital, target unclear

Source: Reuters - Sun, 18 May 2014 14:09 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Adds witness)

TRIPOLI, May 18 (Reuters) - Heavy gunfire from anti-aircraft weapons and rocket-propelled grenades could be heard near the parliament in Libya's capital Tripoli on Sunday, residents said.

The target of the gunfire was not immediately clear. Local television station al-Nabaa said clashes had erupted in the south of the capital, without giving details.

One resident said clashes were taking places near the General National Congress assembly though it was unclear who was opening fire.

"Shops in the area are closing are people are frightened," he said.

The gunfire in Tripoli broke out after more than 70 people were killed on Friday in clashes between irregular army forces and Islamist militants in Benghazi, the main city in the volatile east.

Tripoli has been spared the sort of violence seen in Benghazi, but more than 40 people were killed in November during clashes between militias and armed citizens.

Libya is struggling with chaos as its government, parliament and nascent armed forces are unable to impose their authority over brigades of former rebels and militias who helped oust Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 but now defy the state.

New Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq has formed a government pending parliamentary approval this week, officials said on Sunday, after the country went nearly two months without a functioning government.

(Reporting by Ahmed Elumami, Feras Bosalum and Ulf Laessing; Editing by Alison Williams)

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