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Death toll rises in Libya's Tripoli as clashes enter second day

Violence has pitted alliance of militias from Tripoli against Seventh Brigade group from town of Tarhuna
Fighters loyal to Government of National Accord, south of Tripoli (AFP/File photo)

Two days of clashes between rival militias near Libya's capital, Tripoli, have left 10 people dead and 41 wounded, the health ministry said on Thursday.

Fighting between armed groups erupted on Wednesday despite a truce deal four months ago that had halted deadly battles in the city.

The health ministry said that there were women and children among the wounded.

Fierce clashes hit an area about 50km south of Tripoli on Thursday, after fighting around an airport 25km from the city the previous day, a medical source told AFP.

The European External Action Service (EEAS), the EU's diplomatic service, released a statement on Thursday, calling the resumed fighting "a worrying breach of the ceasefire" and reiterating the EU’s commitment to hold accountable "all those who undermine the political process or threaten the stability of Libya."

The violence has pitted the Tripoli Protection Force, an alliance of militias from the city, against the Seventh Brigade group from the town of Tarhuna, southwest of the capital.

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Tripoli was plagued by militia clashes that killed at least 117 people and wounded more than 400 between late August and late September.  

The United Nations mission in Libya on Wednesday condemned a "military mobilisation" in southern Tripoli and warned groups not to break a ceasefire agreement it brokered in September.

The Seventh Brigade has maintained its positions around Tripoli since the accord was reached, which has angered rival militias.

Libya has been torn between rival administrations and a myriad of militias since the overthrow and killing of longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The main armed groups in Tripoli say they are loyal to the internationally backed Government of National Accord (GNA), but officials have struggled to exert real control over the fighters.

The GNA announced security reforms in the wake of the bloodshed last year, aimed at curbing the power of militias in the capital.

A rival administration in the east of Libya is backed by Khalifa Haftar and his self-styled Libyan National Army.

The UN is pushing for elections to help stabilise Libya, but chronic violence has delayed plans for the vote. 

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