As NATO celebrated a job well done and prepared to cease military operations in Libya at midnight on Monday, security fears grow amidst the population in Tripoli. Residents suffer the continual presence of gun-toting rebel militia who refuse to conform to the requests of the National Transitional Council to act in moderation. Early on Monday morning a gun battle broke out at the entrance to Mitiga Hospital when a group of drunken rebel fighters from Zintan were prevented from entering the hospital to kill a patient they had shot earlier.
When doctors told the gunmen to leave the hospital one of the group began firing. According to the Telegraph
the gunman was overpowered but then hundreds of fighters from Zintan descended on the hospital and fighters from the brigade in Tripoli were called to deal with them. During the ensuing gun battle one passerby was killed and one fighter from Zintan. Seven fighters from the Tripoli brigade were wounded. The fighters took full advantage of available weapons, using anti-aircraft guns and machine guns.The gun battle only ceased at the persuasion of a cleric called from a nearby Mosque.
Nabil Bay, a doctor at the hospital, said
"All these security people, all these revolutionary fighters, they act like they (are) securing the city and the hospital. We don't feel safe. I'm fed up seeing them every day" the FT reported.
The man responsible for security at Mitiga Hospital said
"I think it will happen again. They will be back for revenge."
The fighters have overstayed their welcome in Tripoli by using the excuse that they are protecting the city against any pro-Gaddafi loyalists. In reality the mismatched bunch of fighters who came together to overthrow the Gaddafi regime now turn on each other as regional differences come to the fore in the inevitable struggle for power.The NTC has demonstrated their inability to control the fighters or disarm them.
As NATO officially ceased its operation to protect civilians in Libya at midnight the residents of Tripoli are fearful of the gun-toting fighters who ceaselessly fire their weapons. Meanwhile in Benghazi where the uprising began the flag of al Qaeda
flies proudly over the central courthouse. Tawergha
, a town once home to 30,000 mostly black Libyans stands empty, burned out and looted whilst its residents live in fear of Mistratans, and residents of Sirte rue the overthrow of Gaddafi and question the necessity of NATO bombing their city into oblivion.