A gun battle erupted in Tripoli on Friday between armed supporters of ousted Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi and government forces that left at least eight people wounded, according to hospital sources.
Pro-Kadhafi forces clashed with fighters loyal to the National Transitional Council in Abu Salim, a district around 10 kilometres (six miles) south of the city centre known to harbour supporters of the former Libyan leader, an AFP correspondent reported.
Kadhafi loyalists clashed with several dozen NTC soldiers, who fired at their positions from mounted pick-up trucks.
As journalists arrived at the scene, a young Kadhafi supported shouted: “Allah, Moamer, Libya, that is all!”
Eight people were wounded, NTC fighters among them, sources at the Abu Salim hospital said.
Abdel Rahman Bussin, the military spokesman for the new regime, told AFP the fighting broke out in the district after pro-Kadhafi demonstrations.
He said Kadhafi loyalists had clashed with NTC fighters in other parts of the capital on Friday, without giving details. Residents in Abu Salim reported violence in Al-Hai al-Islami, west of the city centre.
But the deputy head of the supreme military council in Tripoli, Khaled Sharif, insisted the fighting was “very limited” in scope.
“Everything is under control now. We have arrested some of them and we are pursuing the rest,” he told AFP.
Many roads in the capital were closed following the violence.
Residents said the Abu Salim protest began early afternoon, after Friday prayers, and was prompted by a call to rise from a pro-Kadhafi Libyan television presenter earlier in the week, in a message broadcast on Iraqi TV channel Al-Rai.
“We knew that pro-Kadhafi forces were going to come out today. We were prepared,” said Meftah, a young NTC fighter in Abu Salim.
The district, renowned for its prison, was the last area of the capital to witness resistance after NTC forces stormed the former leader’s sprawling and fortified Bab al-Aziziya headquarters on August 23.
Friday’s fighting was the first in Tripoli since then.