A fighter of Libya's Fajr Libya militia stands guard in the southern part of the town of Wershfana, some 27 kilometers west of the capital Tripoli on September 29, 2014
A fighter of Libya's Fajr Libya militia stands guard in the southern part of the town of Wershfana, some 27 kilometers west of the capital Tripoli on September 29, 2014 © Mahmud Turkia - AFP/File
A fighter of Libya's Fajr Libya militia stands guard in the southern part of the town of Wershfana, some 27 kilometers west of the capital Tripoli on September 29, 2014
AFP
Last updated: October 18, 2014

UN calls for ceasefire in western Libya

The United Nations has urged rival militias in western Libya to observe a truce for at least four days from Saturday to facilitate humanitarian aid for civilians trapped by the fighting.

The clashes first broke out last weekend in when nationalist militia from the hill town of Zintan attacked the twin towns of Kekla and Al-Kalaa, which support the Islamist-led Fajr Libya militia.

More than 20 people were killed and dozens wounded in the weekend fighting, but figures on casualties since then are unavailable.

"The United Nations Support Mission in Libya is proposing a cessation of military operations in the areas of Kekla and Kalaa in western Libya for at least four days," UNSMIL said.

That would help "to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance", a statement said, adding that UNSMIL could send an aircraft to evacuate the wounded "once the initiative is implemented".

"Letters detailing the initiative, which is supported by the government of Italy, have been sent to the municipal councils" of the embattled region, the statement added.

Last weekend's violence erupted as UN chief Ban Ki-moon made a surprise visit to Tripoli, as rival militias have been fighting on several fronts across the country.

"Let me be clear: if violent confrontations do not cease immediately, if sustainable peace is not restored, prosperity and a better life will be a distant dream," Ban said.

Libyan authorities have struggled to impose their will across a country aways with weapons and powerful militias who ousted and killed veteran dictator Moamer Kadhafi in the 2011 uprising.

The outgoing government has admitted that it has lost control of Tripoli to armed militias after Zintan and Fajr Libya fought pitched battles in the capital in the summer.

Fajr Libya, a coalition of militias mostly from third city Misrata, expelled Zintan fighters from the capital in August after several weeks of deadly clashes, with much of the violence focused on the international airport.

After seizing Tripoli, Fajr Libya has extended its operations to the west, to the Warshefana region which supports the Zintanis, charging that diehard Kadhafi loyalists are holed up there.

Fighting has also raged in second city Benghazi in the east, where pro-government forces launched an offensive this week to crush Islamist militias that has so far killed more than 50 people.

The UN refugee agency said earlier this month that clashes between rival militias had driven an estimated 287,000 people from their homes, including about 100,000 who have fled the outskirts of Tripoli.

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