Libya fighters in hospital shootout, 1 dead

AP News
Posted: Nov 01, 2011 5:41 PM
Libya fighters in hospital shootout, 1 dead

Groups of Libyan fighters involved in a personal feud exchanged fire at a major hospital, leaving one dead and five wounded over two days of battles, the hospital's security chief said Tuesday.

It was one of the most serious cases of personal score-settling by revolutionary forces since they toppled the regime of Moammar Gadhafi late last month, capturing and killing the former dictator.

Libya is awash in weapons, and the country's interim leaders have promised repeatedly they would collect them, now that the eight-month civil war is over. However, the government has not followed through, and rival military commanders jockeying for position appear reluctant to be the first to have their fighters disarm.

The most recent incident began Sunday with a clash in a Tripoli neighborhood between fighters from the towns of Zintan and Misrata. A Zintan fighter was killed and another, from Misrata, was wounded and taken by his friends to Tripoli's Central Hospital, said Abdel Nasser al-Mohandes, security chief at hospital.

Gunmen from Zintan followed their Misrata rivals to the hospital. One sneaked into the operating theater and fired one round, apparently trying to kill the wounded Misrata man, but was disarmed, al-Mohandes said.

On Monday, another armed clash erupted between the two sides outside the hospital, leaving four wounded, the security chief said. He said three Zintan fighters were arrested and that they had been drunk.

Last week, a woman from Tripoli's once staunchly pro-Gadhafi Abu Salim neighborhood was killed after an argument with a Zintan fighter.

Libya's interim leaders have tried to play down the risk of the massive presence of weapons, saying Libyans are a close-knit society bound by tribal laws. However, there has been a recent rash of violent score-settling by former rebel fighters.

Government spokesman Abdel-Hafiz Ghoga said the authorities are monitoring the incidents and would not tolerate what he called "deviation." He did not present any practical steps for dealing with the problem.