Libya’s prime minister warned Thursday that he would not tolerate any further militia clashes, following the bloodiest bout of fighting to rock Tripoli this year, which killed at least 45 people.
Prime Minister of the Government of National Unity Abdul Hamid Dbeibah made the statement at a meeting of Tripoli elders, saying that "touching civilians is forbidden".
He added that if rival militias are not "calmed down", then "there will be other decisions regarding them".
"Every day people are terrorized. People's lives are not a game. There will be other measures against them, we have to be harsh," he said.
Dbeibah also apologized to those who had lost family members in the violence.
"All of us, Libyans, are not satisfied with what happened. And we will not be satisfied with it. We will not be silent until we stop this matter," he said.
Dbeibah's statements came as Mahmoud Hamza, a commander from the powerful 444 Brigade, was released and returned to his militia's headquarters in Tripoli, according to footage broadcasted across Libyan media late Wednesday.
Hamza's was detained by the rival Special Deterrence Force at an airport in Tripoli on Monday sparking a 24 hour of gun battle between the two forces in Tripoli.
Malek Merset, the spokesperson for Libya’s Emergency Medicine and Support Center, said Wednesday that an additional 146 people were injured. No new update has been provided. It was not clear how many of the dead were militiamen or civilians.
The violence underscored the fragility of war-torn Libya following the 2011 uprising turned civil war, which toppled and later killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. In that time, militias have grown wealthy and powerful, particularly in Tripoli and the west of the country, Many profit from kidnappings and involvement in country’s lucrative human trafficking trade.
The 444 brigade and the Special Deterrence Force are two of the largest militias operating in Tripoli. Both have previously been key backers of Dbeibah, joining forces in May 2022 to thwart an attempt by a former rival Prime Minister from the east to the country to enter the capital.
Since Wednesday, Libyan security forces have upped their presence on the capital's streets. The country’s Interior Ministry said security forces were deployed to areas where the fighting was most intense, including the southern Fernaj neighborhood and the al-Shouk Road. A situation room had been set up to monitor developments, but by Wednesday a tentative calm had returned to the city.