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Libya declares state of emergency in Tripoli

39 dead in heavy fighting in the past few days, 400 prisoners escape

Smoke rises during heavy clashes between rival factions in Tripoli.

Smoke rises during heavy clashes between rival factions in Tripoli.

Last updated Monday 7.22am

A state of emergency has been declared in Tripoli by Libya’s UN-backed government as fighting among rival factions intensives around the capital.

Fierce clashes erupted last week between the Seventh Brigade, or Kaniyat, from Tarhouna, a town 65 km (40 miles) southeast of Tripoli, against the Tripoli Revolutionaries' Brigades (TRB) and the Nawasi, two of the capital's largest armed groups.

39 people died and 96 were injured in the past few days.

The government in a statement urged rival militias to stop the fighting and abide by a UN-brokered ceasefire.

The country is currently governed by rival authorities in Tripoli and the east, each backed by an array of militias that wield real power on the ground.

The United States, France, Italy and Britain on Saturday condemned the escalation of violence in and around 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.

400 prisoners escape amid Tripoli chaos

Some 400 prisoners escaped from a jail in Libya's capital on Sunday while fighting between rival armed groups raged nearby.

The inmates forced open the doors of the Ain Zara prison and guards were unable to stop them.

The prison is located in southern Tripoli, an area hit for one week by heavy fighting between rival groups.

Separately, a missile fell on Sunday on the al-Fallah camp for displaced Tawergha people, killing two and wounding seven, including two children, said Emad Ergeha, an activist following Tawergha issues.

The Tawergha were forced to leave their settlement near the western city of Misrata in the NATO-backed uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and have been prevented from going back since.

Ergeha, who is a Tawergha, also posted online a video of firefighters extinguishing a blaze and showing severe damage to steel-made containers in the camp.

A rocket also hit the Waddan hotel in central Tripoli near the Italian Embassy on Saturday. Three people were injured, staff said.

State oil firm NOC confirmed one of its diesel depots used to supply a power station had been hit by a rocket on Saturday. 

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