PARIS: The US, France, Italy and Britain have condemned what they called an escalation of violence in and around the Libyan capital Tripoli, warning that armed groups which undermined Libyan stability would be made accountable.
“These attempts to weaken the legitimate Libyan authorities and hinder the ongoing political process are not acceptable,” Washington, Paris, Rome and London said in a joint statement published by the French Foreign Ministry.
“We are calling on the armed groups to immediately stop all military action and warn those who seek to undermine stability, in Tripoli or elsewhere in Libya, that they will be made accountable for it,” the statement said.
Libyan authorities closed Tripoli airport on Friday after some rockets were fired in its direction, a spokesman for the state airline Libyan Airlines said.
Fighting rival militias have put the lives of people trapped there in danger and exacerbated already alarming levels of humanitarian needs, especially at migrant detention centers there, an international aid group said.
The clashes in Tripoli which erupted earlier this week have endangered the lives of local residents and an estimated 8,000 refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, Doctors Without Borders, known by the French acronym MSF, said in a statement. The fighting, pitting armed groups from Tripoli against others from a town to the south, has killed some 39 people, including civilians, and wounded 119 others, said Widad Abu Niran, a spokesman for the Libyan Health Ministry in Tripoli, on Thursday.
Malek Mersit, a Libyan health official, said on Friday that armed groups continue to wage street battles, but aid groups have managed to secure some passages and relocate families to safer areas. Dozens have been evacuated but others have remained trapped amid the fighting, he added.
“We hear heavy explosions and gunfire,” Mohammed Husken, a Tripoli resident, said. “We feel the ground quaking beneath us due to the bombing.”