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Sun, 16 Oct 2011 11:51 - Updated Sun, 16 Oct 2011 11:51

Loyalists' and Libya NTC Tripoli battle ends


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Tripoli - A gun battle in the Libyan capital Tripoli between forces loyal to the transitional government and gunmen they say support fugitive ex-leader Col Muammar Gaddafi has now ended.

It was the first serious confrontation in Tripoli since the city fell to the forces of the National Transitional Council (NTC) in August.

The fighting started after a demonstration by Gaddafi loyalists.

A hospital doctor has told the BBC that nine people were seriously injured.

Although the gun battle has finished, the BBC understands that NTC forces are carrying out an operation to root out Gaddafi loyalists from the Abu Salim district at the centre of the disturbance.

The problem at this stage in Tripoli is that everyone is armed. When it comes to Abu Salim district itself, a lot of people there are armed there.

A lot of them are suspected to be posing as people who were opposed to Col Gaddafi's regime. They had set up local councils as well and they simply changed the banner when the rebels arrived in August.

That was always a concern for locals in Abu Salim who looked at it as a pro-Gaddafi neighbourhood that really needed to be cleaned out. The BBC's Caroline Hawley, in Tripoli, says there are reports that the green flag of the Gaddafi government was raised in other towns as well.

An eyewitness has told the BBC the green flag was also raised in the Daraa area of Tripoli, where a small group of Gaddafi supporters were on the street.

NTC forces cordoned off the area, fired warning shots and stopped cars to search them. However, the witness did not see anyone being detained.

Our correspondent says this is likely to rattle the transitional authorities of the NTC, who are trying to exert control in the midst of a political and security vacuum.

Friday's fighting took place near a notorious prison where political prisoners were held under the previous government.

The area is a stronghold of support for Col Gaddafi.

An eyewitness told the BBC he saw about 20 pro-Gaddafi fighters come out firing AK-47s.