TRIPOLI, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) — Civilian life has returned to Warshaffana area southwest of the Libyan capital of Tripoli, after the forces of the UN-backed government seized it and expelled armed criminal groups.
In Warshaffana, which is located some 30 kilometers southwest of Tripoli, Xinhua correspondent monitored the return of the normal life. Most shops are opened, with hundreds of families returning after years of control of criminal armed groups and supporters of the former regime in the area.
The government’s Joint Operations Chamber forces recently launched a military operation in the area to eliminate “crime in the area,” a statement said.
“We had a problem that has worsened recently with the return of militant supporters of Gaddafi’s regime. The so-called Popular Front took advantage of the security situation and gathered in a large military camp, and recruited nearly 1,700 African mercenaries, particularly the Sudanese Justice and Equality Movement. They posed a direct threat to the army of General Khalifa Haftar, the forces of the Government of National Accord, and forces of the cities of Misurata and Zintan,” Mukhtar Al-Akhdar, member of the Chamber, told Xinhua.
“When we contacted the general commands of Prime Minister Serraj and General Khalifa Haftar, it turned out that this force is not affiliates to either of them. Both commands denied any connection with it, which led us to launching this military campaign to eliminate this threat against the security and stability of Libya, especially Tripoli and the western mountain cities. They are responsible for kidnapping, murder and armed robbery to finance their operations against state institutions over the past years,” Al-Akhdar added.
Al-Akhdar, a senior official of the military council of Zintan, said that the military operations were carried out in coordination with security forces in Tripoli and the western mountain cities.
The death toll of the clashes in Warshaffana is 70, including 15 members of Sudan’s Justice and Equality Movement, according to local sources.
The eastern-based army warned against attacks by the government forces on the headquarters of army units in the area. The eastern-based parliament also demanded an immediate halt to military operations in Warshaffana.
Police Captain Mohammed Jarallah said that the deployment of police in the area continues, and that dozens of security checkpoints are deployed along the road between Tripoli to Aziziya city.
“We have observed heavy civilian traffic movement. Hundreds of families are returning home since Thursday. No security violations have been recorded so far, a sign of the success of the first security plan,” Jarallah said.
Jarallah pointed that there is a “positive cooperation between the security personnel and residents of Warshaffana to report any suspicious activity or presence of gunmen in the area, as the residents have been fed up with the acts and terrorism of the militants for more than two years.”
Khalil Tijani, a university professor, was very happy to return after more than two years since a criminal group kidnapped him and burned his house.
“I have returned to my house that was burned by criminals. I hope that the armed conflict will end and that we will live in peace in our land with our people,” he told his story with tears in his eyes.
“We do not care who secures the area. We have no hostility with any Libyan who has a sense of patriotism. We only want politicians to reject their differences, to unite efforts and to speed up the unity of the government, institutions, especially the army,” Tijani said.