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Protest at Tripoli militia headquarters sparks deadly clashes

More than 30 people have been killed and many others injured after a militia attack on protesters in the Libyan capital, Tripoli. Hundreds of people had marched on a militia headquarters demanding it be disbanded.

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Friday's violence began when militiamen fired on the protesters with rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns. The shooting sparked a retaliatory attack from the protesters, some of whom went home to gather weapons before returning to the scene, witnesses said. At least 31 people were killed and at least 200 wounded during the bloodshed.

Militias have taken on a more powerful role in the increasingly lawless country since the 2011 uprising that ousted dictator Moammar Ghadafi. The militias, some of which are funded by the government, control some areas of the country and have carried out a number of violent attacks.

The protesters had marched from a downtown mosque to the headquarters of a militia originally from Misrata. Waving white flags, they demanded the country's weakened security forces take the place of the militias, chanting "we want an army, we want police."

As the crowd approached the headquarters building, armed men came out and opened fire on them, witnesses said.

dr/pfd (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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