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Death toll in militia clashes in Libya’s capital rises to 10

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - The death toll from clashes between rival militias in the Libyan capital Tripoli has risen to 10 killed and 41 wounded, the health ministry said on Thursday.

Fighting broke out this week between rival armed groups in the south of the capital, breaching a shaky ceasefire brokered by the United Nations in September which had ended four weeks of violence.

The ministry said women and children were also among the casualties.

Two residents told Reuters by phone that heavy gunfire had not ceased for 72 hours in Tripoli’s southern suburb of Qaser Bin Ghashir, location of city’s international airport which was destroyed in a previous bout of clashes in 2014.

The most recent fighting broke out between a coalition of Tripoli militias, known as the Tripoli Protection Force (TPF), and the 7th Brigade, or Kaniyat, from Tarhouna, a town 65 km (45 miles) southeast of Tripoli.

The Force said in a statement that it controlled Qaser Bin Qashir, posting on the internet pictures of masked fighters and armored vehicles in the streets of the area.

Reuters was not able to verify this independently.

The 7th Brigade and some allied groups triggered the fighting last August in a bid to challenge the dominance of four “super militias”, including the Tripoli Protection Force, in the streets of the capital.

The internationally-recognized government in Tripoli, backed by the United Nations, has been working on a new security plan since the September ceasefire deal but achieved little.

Libya’s streets have been controlled by armed groups since the fall of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in a 2011 rebellion backed by NATO air strikes. The country now has competing governments operating in the east and west.

Editing by Ulf Laessing and Peter Graff