Forces loyal to Libya’s UN-backed unity government seized the headquarters of a rival militia on Wednesday in a third day of intense fighting for control of Tripoli.
The capital has seen exchanges of rocket and artillery fire between unity government forces and a militia loyal to former prime minister Khalifa Ghweil.
Libya has experienced years of violence and lawlessness since the NATO-backed ouster of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, with rival parliaments and governments vying for influence and militias fighting over territory and the country’s vast oil wealth.
Since taking power from Ghweil’s administration in March 2016, the Government of National Accord has secured the backing of powerful militias in the capital, but some districts remain outside its control.
Ghweil refuses to recognise the GNA’s authority.
Overnight, government forces launched an assault on his headquarters in the Guest Palace, a complex of luxury villas in the city centre, and overran it after heavy fighting.
“It’s over. Ghweil’s forces have pulled out and GNA forces have taken control of the area,” a witness told AFP.
A security source confirmed the militia’s withdrawal, but had no immediate word on any casualties.
It was the third straight day of fighting between government forces and the militia, who are mainly drawn from Ghweil’s hometown, third city Misrata.
Gunfire and explosions were heard from multiple parts of the capital.
A rocket hit the Al-Khadhra Hospital without causing any casualties, a medic said.
Overnight, gunmen stormed the headquarters of Al-Nabaa television, a privately owned channel known for its Islamist leanings, witnesses said.
The channel remained off the air on Wednesday.
The fighting brought life in the capital to a standstill, with schools and shops closed.
Heavy fighting has also rocked the east of Libya where forces loyal to military strongman Khalifa Haftar announced their recapture of two key oil ports on Tuesday.