* Renewed clashes in Tripoli, two reported killed in capital
* Gunmen kill Chinese engineer in eastern city Benghazi
* Renegade army general gaining support for anti-Islamist
By Ahmed Elumami and Feras Bosalum
TRIPOLI, May 21 At least two people were killed
when heavy fighting erupted near the Libyan capital of Tripoli
on Wednesday, two days after gunmen stormed parliament in some
of the city's worst violence since the 2011 war.
Residents reported several loud explosions near the
al-Yarmouk barracks in the Salaheddin district. Gunfire and
explosions later appeared to die down.
Heavy fighting involving anti-aircraft batteries also broke
out near an army camp in Tajoura, an eastern suburb. "We're
hearing really loud explosions and gunshots near the camp, but
we don't know who is shooting," a Tajoura resident said.
It was unclear who was involved in the latest violence,
which killed at least two people from Mali, a health ministry
source said. Other parts of the capital appeared to be quiet.
In addition, Libya's top naval commander, General Hasssan
Abu Shanaq, survived an assassination attempt by unknown gunmen
as he was travelling to work, a spokesman for the chief of staff
In the eastern city of Benghazi, gunmen killed a Chinese
engineer on Tuesday after kidnapping him from his worksite and
then dumping his body, according to a security source in the
The engineer was one of three colleagues at a Chinese
construction company who were all abducted from a worksite, the
Chinese embassy said on Wednesday, according to China's official
press agency, XinHua. He was later found shot and died in
hospital, XinHua reported. His two colleagues were released.
Militants around Benghazi have targeted foreigners in the
past, including an attack on the U.S. consulate in 2012 in which
U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans
Since Libya's 2011 war ended Muammar Gaddafi's one-man rule,
the country's new institutions have struggled to gain popular
backing and to make progress towards full democracy. But the
central government has been unable to control the brigades and
militias who helped to topple Gaddafi. They are now defying
state authority to make their own demands.
Tripoli has been calmer in the past two days, after
militiamen stormed the General National Congress (GNC), Libya's
parliament, on Sunday and fought for six hours with other armed
groups on the airport road. The militiamen claimed loyalty to
former army general Khalifa Haftar.
On Friday, Haftar started what he called a military campaign
against Islamist militants in Benghazi in the east. He also
later claimed responsibility for the attack on parliament in
Several military units have joined him, threatening to split
the nascent regular forces and network of different militia. The
militia are rivals for influence and are loosely aligned on
opposing sides with Islamist and anti-Islamist political forces.
Western governments are concerned Libya's instability may
worsen and spill over into its North African neighbours, who are
still emerging from the political unrest following the 2011 Arab
In a parallel political battle over who controls the OPEC
producer, Libya's government put more pressure on parliament to
suspend work until parliamentary elections are held in June.
The cabinet has called on local councils across Libya to
support a proposal that the GNC halt work until an upcoming
national vote, according to a statement. It also wants to repeat
the election of the prime minister.
The government sent the proposal to the GNC on Monday, in an
effort to force lawmakers to hand over power. Many Libyans blame
political infighting in parliament for the country's bumpy
transition since the 2011 war.
"We urge all council leaders to study the initiative as soon
as possible," the cabinet said in a statement released on
Businessman Ahmed Maiteeq was named as the new premier two
weeks ago, in a chaotic vote disputed by many lawmakers. But he
comes from Misrata, a western city with strong links to the
Muslim Brothers - a no-go for fiercly anti-Islamist militias in
eastern and western Libya.
Haftar and other militias have demanded that parliament step
down. But Islamist-leaning brigades and the Muslim Brotherhood
have called for militias to protect the government institutions.
The national election commission proposed late on Sunday
holding parliamentary elections on June 25, an apparent attempt
to ease growing tensions between the two camps.
Parliament is split between Islamists and more moderate
forces, as well along tribal lines. It bowed to public pressure
and said in February it would hold early elections.
(Reporting by Ahmed Elumami, Feras Bosalum and Ulf Laessing;
Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Patrick Markey, Larry King)