By Jihad Nasr
A government official has denied reports about the escape of Prime Minister of Libya’s unity government Fayez al-Sarraj from the capital Tripoli.
Media reports claimed that al-Sarraj had fled from Tripoli and his Defense Minister al-Mahdi al-Barghathi had been abducted.
“We deny these malicious rumors fanned by local and foreign media,” the official told Anadolu Agency on Sunday, requesting anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to media.
“Both al-Sarraj and al-Barghathi are inside Libya and are assuming their duties from inside Tripoli,” the source said.
Violence flared up in Tripoli last week after government forces launched a military operation against a local militia group in western Tripoli.
At least three people were killed in the ensuing clashes, which later spread to other parts of the capital.
On Thursday, government forces and the militia reached an immediate cease-fire in the troubled capital.
The following day, hundreds of civilians demonstrated in Tripoli to call for expelling militias from the capital, amid calls of support for East Libya-based military commander Khalifa Haftar, whose forces have made gains against militias in eastern Libya.
Libya has been wracked by turmoil since 2011, when a bloody uprising ended with the ouster and death of autocratic leader Muammar Gaddafi after 42 years in power.
In the wake of the uprising, the country’s stark political divisions yielded two rival seats of government, one in Tobruk and the other in capital Tripoli.