Leaders from the Libyan port of Misrata have urged militias from the city to leave Tripoli within 72 hours, after they were involved in deadly weekend clashes in the capital.
A militia of former rebels from Misrata who fought the regime of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011 opened fire on protesters in Tripoli, sparking unrest that killed at least 43 people.
Community leaders, officials and ex-rebel commanders from the coastal city urged the “withdrawal of all ex-rebels from the city of Misrata who are in Tripoli, whatever their group is… in under 72 hours,” in a statement issued late on Sunday.
The statement suggested the clashes resulted from a plan to “undermine (Misrata’s) image and show it as if it were the only obstacle to the construction of the state”.
Demonstrators protesting against militias on Friday in Tripoli’s Gharghour neighbourhood were fired upon from villas occupied by fighters from Misrata, who killed several protesters before rival militias swept in.
At least 43 people were killed and another 450 were wounded in the deadliest unrest to hit the capital since the fall of Kadhafi in October 2011.
The defence ministry had ordered the demolition of the villas, previously home to supporters of the Kadhafi regime before they were seized by rebels in 2011, before cancelling the decision later.
Rebels who fought in the 2011 uprising were initially hailed as heroes for their role in toppling the Kadhafi regime.
But many of these groups have since carved out their own fiefdoms in the vast country, refusing to hand over their arms to Libya’s weak central government and paying little heed to its authority.