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Libya militias clash in longest sustained fighting since Qaddafi's fall

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Youssef Boudlal/Reuters

(Read caption) Fighters from Zawiya city fire a rocket towards the Warcfana tribe at the front line of the city, about 25 miles from Tripoli, Libya, November 12.

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Libya's efforts at building a government and civil society after more than 40 years of autocratic rule are being hindered by clashes between rival militias, still armed from the violent rebellion that ousted former leader Muammar Qaddafi.

Militias from the town of Zawiya and the tribal area of Warshefana, both in the vicinity of Tripoli, have clashed for the past four days – the longest sustained fighting since Mr. Qaddafi's fall last month. At least six people were killed, the Associated Press reports. In Tripoli, where the police force does not yet have control of the whole city, brigades from different tribes and regions remain in control of sections of the city, according to the Washington Post.

A fighter from Zawiyah told the Washington Post there are "remnants of Qaddafi people among them," referring to the Warshefana tribe. Some of the Zawiyah fighters believe that Saif al-Islam, the only member of the Qaddafi family who remains at large, is hiding in the area.

Interim leader Mustapha Abdul-Jalil said Sunday that the National Transitional Council intends to disarm the many militias still roaming the country and skirmishing with each other, but that first the government needs to be able to offer alternatives – jobs, education, and training, the Associated Press reports.

There have also been clashes in Tripoli between fighters from the coastal city of Misurata, which endured a months-long siege by Qaddafi's army during the war, and the mountain town of Zintan, which has developed a particularly bad reputation for fighting and stealing. Zintanis have also clashed with local Tripoli brigades.

As The Christian Science Monitor reported from Tripoli, Misuratas fighters feel "accountable to no one, not even the country's interim government," because of how much they suffered during the siege. More than 1,000 people were killed.

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