September 7, 2014 / 1:52 PM / 3 years ago

Twelve killed in clashes west of Libyan capital Tripoli: doctor

BENGHAZI Libya (Reuters) - Around twelve people have been killed and ten wounded in a flare-up of clashes between rival armed groups near the Libyan capital Tripoli, a doctor said on Sunday.

The North African country is in turmoil as former rebels who helped oust Muammar Gaddafi in a NATO-backed uprising three years ago have turned their guns on each other in a bid to dominate politics and get a share of the country’s oil reserves.

An alliance of armed groups called Operation Dawn, mainly from the western city of Misrata, seized the capital Tripoli last month after expelling a rival group from Zintan.

Tripoli has been largely quiet since then but fighters from the Operation Dawn have been trying to capture the tribal Warshefana area southwest of the city, residents said.

The Warshefana are allied to the Zintani forces.

Residents reported heavy shelling in the city on Saturday, which was confirmed by British Ambassador Michael Aron. “City is quiet. Families out on seafront last night. But shelling of Warshefana areas clearly heard,” Aron tweeted during a visit to Tripoli on Saturday.

A hospital doctor said around twelve people were killed and ten wounded in the shelling of Warshefana residential areas. He said gunfire could still be heard on Sunday, although it was not as heavy as the day before.

Western diplomats and the United Nations have pulled out of Libya to escape the violence. The weak central government and the country’s elected parliament have moved to Tobruk in the remote east.

Libya’s neighbors and Western powers worry the oil producer will turn into a failed state as the government has no real army or police to tackle dozens of armed groups roaming around the country unchallenged.

Reporting by Ahmed Elumami; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Rosalind Russell

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