Shots Fired Outside Libyan Parliament

Clashes have erupted outside the Libyan parliament in the capital, Tripoli, in an attack being claimed by forces loyal to a retired army general accused of launching a coup attempt.

A spokeman of retired Libyan Major General Khalifa Haftar said the attackers were affiliated with Haftar’s forces.

However, according to the Libyan News Agency, the attacking force belongs to the Zintan brigade, a rebel group from 170km south-west of Tripoli, which controls the city’s international airport.

Zintar forces have not yet said the attack was undertaken for Haftar.

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The retired general has been carrying out a military campaign in Benghazi – using government aircraft and troops without authorisation – against Islamist militias since Friday.

At least 70 people have died and another 140 have been injured in the campaign.

Haftar vowed to press on with his operation after Libya’s interim Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni on Saturday denounced his forces as “outlaws” and called on all parties to observe restraint.

On Sunday he was preparing to renew his offensive in the eastern city after being accused by the authorities of an attempted coup.

In a press conference on Sunday, he denied his actions amounted to a coup attempt.

“This is not a coup against the state and we are not seeking power and authority,” Haftar said. “Terrorism and its servants want it to be a battle so let it be an honourable one.”

Libya has been 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.

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