Johannesburg – Gunfire and gunfights are not unusual in Tripoli, but even so, a random shooting by a lone gunman in the Libyan capital as Libyans prepared for the holy Muslim Holiday of Eid Al Adha sowed panic on the streets.
On Wednesday, a reporter from the Libya Herald reported seeing a gunman opening fire in the Libyan capital Tripoli .
The unnamed reporter said the shooting happened in a busy street in what appeared to be a perfectly normal setting, at the crossroads in Tripoli’s Fashloom district, just by the traffic lights.
A couple of police cars belonging to central security were parked nearby. The police sometimes stop cars and ask motorists for their documents and sometimes they direct the traffic.
Suddenly people started running away in panic as cars drove rapidly away from where the shooting was coming from.
“I was buying bread from the busy bakery but within what seemed just a second, it was full of frightened people. Women and children were screaming,” said the Herald reporter.
Men dressed in civilian clothing carrying heavy weapons then began chasing an armed man in front of National and Commercial Bank just next to the traffic lights.
“I then saw three people, seemingly civilians, but with weapons, trying to control the man. Nearby three or four women, trapped in their car, were screaming as shooting was very near their vehicle,” he added.
The armed civilians then shot the gunman in the leg and he was subsequently overpowered as security men shouted at people to leave the area.
The police, however, did not get involved and had already vanished from the scene by the time the gunman was overpowered.
The whole incident took about 20 minutes, from beginning to end, and then the area was left deserted.
Fortunately, nobody apart from the gunman was injured in the violence and the reason for him opening fire remained unclear.
“It was just another incident in Tripoli,” the journalist remarked.
Afterwards, one local focused his anger about the situation on the UN and its new envoy Ghassan Salamé.
“The new envoy of UN to Libya needs to think before claiming that in Tripoli and in other parts of the country the security situation has improved. Does the UN have a different definition of security?”
Violence, he said bitterly, remained a constant fact of life in Tripoli because of the warring militias.