At least 21 people were killed in fighting near Libya’s capital Tripoli Friday, military sources said, as the country’s rival parliaments met in Morocco for UN-brokered peace talks aimed at forming a unity government to end the unrest.
Pro-government forces clashed with fighters from the Islamist-backed Fajr Libya militia alliance in Tajoura, 30 kilometers (19 miles) east of Tripoli, as the forces of the internationally recognized government launched an attack against the militia’s camp in a new attempt to regain control of the capital.
“14 soldiers, four fighters from Fajr Libya, and three women were killed today in Tajoura,” a pro-government military source told AFP, adding that the women were killed accidentally in rocket fire.
Another 24 people were wounded, he said, without giving a breakdown.
A Fajr Libya spokesman in Tripoli, Mohamad Shami, confirmed the attack but gave a much higher death toll on the pro-government side.
“32 members of the attacking forces were killed,” Shami said.
“Fajr Libya is in full control of Tajoura, and there are minor clashes near a camp called the 101 camp where some of the attackers are still there and Fajr Libya forces are surrounding them,” he added.
A second pro-government military source told AFP that “there are ongoing fierce battles in Tajoura area, with the help of our air force launching airstrikes.”
The fresh fighting marks a new front as forces loyal to the internationally recognized government try to reenter the capital, under the control of Fajr Libya since August.
The country has had two governments and parliaments since the alliance of Islamist militia seized Tripoli in August and the internationally recognized government fled to the country’s far east.
On March 24, the UN mission in Libya (UNSMIL) unveiled a six-point plan to end the crisis, including the formation of a transitional unity government until a new constitution is adopted and elections held.
The rival parliaments are currently in Morocco to try to thrash out an agreement.
UNSMIL said Friday that there were still “differences” that needed to be worked out before a consensus was reached.
“We have received the text from the parties on their remarks. There are differences that we are working to narrow,” UNSMIL spokesman Samir Ghattas said in statement texted to AFP.
The country has been politically divided since a 2011 revolt that toppled dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Armed groups have filled the vacuum as they battle for control of the country’s oil wealth and cities.