23 Killed in Libya as Islamist Militants Battle Rival Militias

CAIRO — Fighting between Islamist militias and rival groups in a western Libyan town has killed at least 23 people, a hospital official said Sunday.

The intense battle in Kikla also left 43 people wounded, mainly from shrapnel wounds, said the official, Emad Khalifa Abdul-Salam of the Gharyan hospital, southwest of the capital, Tripoli.

The fighting is part of a nationwide power struggle between Islamist-backed militias, which have seized control of most of Tripoli, including its international airport, and their opponents, who back an internationally recognized government based in the far eastern part of the country.

The anti-Islamist Zintan militia, named for its hometown in the west, attacked Kikla, an Islamist stronghold, on Saturday.

A commander in the Islamist militias, known as Libya Dawn, said the Zintan militia, with the backing of local tribes, was able to seize parts of Kikla and briefly cut roads between Kikla and Gharyan, about 50 miles southwest of Tripoli.

But the Libya Dawn fighters forced them to retreat, allowing traffic to resume, the commander said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the news media…

(Photo: An armed motorcade belonging to members of Derna’s Islamic Youth Council, consisting of former members of militias from the town of Derna, drive along a road in Derna, eastern Libya October 3, 2014. Reuters)