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Truce agreed; Libyan ex-PM wounded in Tripoli battle

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Author: AFPFri, 2017-03-17ID: 1489692045234760500TRIPOLI: Khalifa Ghweil, Libya’s former prime minister, was wounded in heavy fighting in the capital Tripoli on Wednesday but his injuries are not life threatening, sources close to him said.Militia loyal to the ex-premier exchanged artillery fire with forces of the UN-backed government for several hours before withdrawing from their headquarters in the Guest Palace, a complex of luxury villas in the city center.It was the third straight day of clashes between the two sides.Since taking power from Ghweil’s administration in March 2016, the Government of National Accord (GNA) has secured the backing of powerful militias in the capital, but some districts remain outside its Armed groups, meanwhile, have signed a cease-fire deal ending the four-day battle for control of the capital, the unity government said Thursday.The city has been paralyzed amid exchanges of rocket and artillery fire between pro-unity government forces and rival militias including groups allied with Ghweil.Thursday’s deal cements the UN-backed GNA’s control over large parts of the capital.It provides for an “immediate cease-fire” and calls for armed groups that do not recognize the GNA to leave Tripoli within 30 days.It also demands the release of people arrested since Monday, the GNA’s Defense Ministry said.Clashes on Wednesday night rocked the capital’s southern Salaheddine district, where several rival militias occupy barracks.But the city and its surroundings were quiet on Thursday morning following the overnight deal, signed by the GNA, local mayors and powerful militias from Tripoli and Misrata.The battle, triggered Monday night after the killing of a bank guard, saw pro-GNA forces expand their clout in the capital.They took several districts from rival militias including groups allied with Ghweil, who was forced out of power when the GNA arrived in Tripoli.The GNA operation appeared to be well prepared and coordinated. Thursday’s deal charges GNA forces with securing areas controlled by rival groups.Observers said it was in line with an inter-Libyan political deal backed by the UN and signed in December 2015.That agreement, which gave rise to the GNA, called for armed groups to leave Tripoli and other Libyan towns.The capital remains home to dozens of militias. Since taking office, the unity government has secured the backing of several, but many parts of Tripoli remain out of its control.The GNA wants to see heavy weapons withdrawn from the capital to allow its security forces to operate effectively.Separately, Italy evacuated 22 wounded Libyans for medical treatment in Rome, some of whom were involved in fighting this week for control of the eastern oil ports of Ras Lanuf and Es Sider, Italy’s Defense Ministry said on Thursday.
Main category: Middle-East

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