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Deadly clashes in Libya’s capital killed dozens of people in recent days, in unrest that has sparked fears over reigniting another civil war in the war-torn North African country, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Tripoli officials said at least 32 people died and 159 others were injured in weekend clashes between armed groups loyal to rival political factions. The fighting also damaged a number of government and residential buildings, they added.

The recent fighting occurred between armed groups loyal to Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah in the capital Tripoli in the west of the country and militias supporting a rival administration in the east attempting to seize the capital.

Libya has been plagued by violence since 2011 following the ousting of longtime autocrat Muammar Gaddafi. The country has been split between two rival factions in the east and the west, each backed by different foreign powers.

Observers called the weekend violence the deadliest in more than two years.

Libya had enjoyed a period of calm in 2021 when a United Nations-brokered peace process helped install Dbeibah as the country’s interim prime minister. Dbeibah and his interim unity government were to usher in new national elections last December that would help end the conflict in the oil-rich nation.

However, tensions last year over the eligibility of the candidates caused the elections to be postponed indefinitely.

Dbeibah refused to step down, prompting lawmakers in the country’s eastern-based parliament to appoint former Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha as their prime minister in February.

Following the Tripoli battle, Dbeibah called the attacks against him a coup d’état. He also called for national elections but didn’t say how and when they were going to happen.

Analysts suggested that Dbeibah would try to strengthen his position following the weekend fighting. Even so, he faces an uphill battle, including rival militias stationed across western Libya and on Tripoli’s outskirts.

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