Fighting breaks out in pro-Gadhafi pocket of Tripoli

National Transitional Council fighters in Abu Salim, Libya, after a gun battle erupted on Friday.

Story highlights

  • 2 Gadhafi loyalists and a NTC fighter killed, NTC member says
  • Tripoli streets are tense Friday night
  • U.N. human rights official cites evidence of torture of prisoners held by the NTC
Two Gadhafi loyalists and one National Transitional Council fighter were killed Friday in the Abu Salim neighborhood of Tripoli, an NTC member told reporters.
A group of about 10 Gadhafi loyalists had entered the streets of Abu Salim waving green flags and holding a picture of the ousted Libyan leader in a move to draw NTC fighters into the neighborhood, which has remained largely loyal to Gadhafi, council member Abdelrazaq Al Aradi said. When anti-Gadhafi forces responded by entering the streets, the loyalists opened fire, Al Aradi said.
Afterward, Omar Khadrawi, the assistant to the interior minister, directed a message through reporters to any remaining loyalists. "Their names have been discovered and the information about them receiving weapons is in the hands of the security now," he said. He added that he was offering them "a last chance" to hand in their weapons to authorities.
On Friday evening, the mood on the streets of the capital was tense. Heavily manned checkpoints dotted the streets en route to Abu Salim. Fighters and area residents told CNN that a small number of Gadhafi supporters started looting and burning cars after Friday prayers.
NTC fighters, some drawn from other neighborhoods, responded quickly. Witnesses and fighters said a number of Gadhafi loyalists were detained. Reports conflicted on whether they were armed.
Later in the evening, gunshots could be heard in a number of neighborhoods in the city.
Al Aradi told CNN separately that NTC fighters think they have captured the organizer of clashes Friday in the Tajoura neighborhood of eastern Tripoli.
On Friday, the U.N. human rights office raised the issue of the number of prisoners in Libya and their treatment. "It could be up to 7,000," said Mona Rishmawi, a senior official with the group in Geneva, Switzerland. "At this stage, there is no police infrastructure, there is no prison authorities. The prison authorities were under the Justice Ministry and, right now, the Justice Ministry is not fully functional."
"There is allegations and evidence of torture" in the prisons, she said, citing lawyers, clients and human rights groups.