TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Intense fighting erupted in the Libyan capital overnight and lasted until Saturday morning, with rival factions exchanging heavy gunfire and the sounds of several loud blasts ricocheting around the city.

The clashes took place in Tripoli’s city centre, witnesses said, amid a political standoff over control of Libya’s government that has seen armed groups increasingly mobilise around the capital in recent weeks.

Pictures and video shared online of the city centre, which Reuters could not immediately verify, showed military vehicles speeding through the streets, fighters shooting and local residents trying to douse fires.

“This is horrible. My family and I could not sleep because of the clashes. The sound was too loud and too frightening,” said Abdulmenam Salem, a central Tripoli resident. “We stayed awake in case we had to leave quickly. It’s a terrible feeling.”

There was no immediate comment from the interior and health ministries regarding the fighting, which stopped late in the morning, or any casualties.

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The main Libyan standoff pits the Government of National Unity in Tripoli under Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah against a rival administration under Fathi Bashagha, which is backed by the eastern-based parliament.

The United Nations mission in the country warned this week against any attempt to resolve the dispute through violence.

(Reporting by Ahmed Elumami; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Pravin Char)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

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