Libyan lawmakers ordered feuding militias and other groups to end their fighting, as more nations shuttered embassies and concern grew over violence threatening the OPEC member.
The call by the newly sworn in members of the legislature was the latest in what have been largely futile efforts to restore some measure of order after unrest in the north African nation hit its worst levels since the 2011 ouster and killing of Muammar Qaddafi. In the latest evidence of the mayhem gripping Libya, 10 unidentified corpses -- some burned -- were found in Benghazi, the state-run Libya News Agency reported.
In their statement, lawmakers ordered the various parties to adopt an immediate and unconditional cease-fire, warning that the government would take “all measures” to “escalate” the situation should the groups fail to comply. The warning may be symbolic given that the central government has been unable to wield any control over the militias, many of which were drawn into service as police and the military, and have jostled over access to key resources for their regions.
Fighting in the capital and in the eastern city of Benghazi has left over 200 dead in the past three weeks and hundreds more wounded, displaced thousands of families, forced an exodus of foreigners and the shuttering of embassies. While clashes in Tripoli have centered around the airport and control over the facility, they have disrupted daily life, leaving hospitals short of staff and supplies, and creating what officials have described as a mounting humanitarian crisis.
In Benghazi, the country’s second largest city, the fighting has been between renegade General Khalifa Haftar, who’s determined to wipe out what he has described as “terrorists” bent on destabilizing the nation, and Islamists who argue they are fighting forces loyal to the now-ousted Qaddafi regime.