Libyan militias fire on protesters, 10 wounded: witness

Reuters

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - At least 10 people were wounded in Tripoli on Friday when militiamen opened fire on hundreds of protesters who had marched on their brigade headquarters to demand that they leave the Libyan capital, a Reuters witness said.

Heavy smoke could be seen from the scene as Libyan police and armed local residents battled to control the militiamen in an area on the road to Tripoli's international airport.

Libya is struggling to contain scores of rival militia gangs and former fighters who refuse to disarm and who pose a challenge to the central government two years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in a NATO-backed uprising.

The Reuters reporter at the scene said at least one of the wounded had been hit by a shell fired from an anti-aircraft gun which the militias often use attached to the back of jeeps.

Libya has tried to co-opt the militias by putting them on the government payroll and drafting them to provide security in Tripoli and other cities. But the gunmen often remain loyal to their commanders rather than to the authorities.

Clashes between rival militias still break out in the capital, where Libya's nascent armed forces are still in training and cannot challenge the heavily armed militiamen.

Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has called for more foreign training for his military. Highlighting Libya's chaos, the premier himself was briefly abducted in October by a militia group on the government payroll.