STORY: Clashes erupted in Libya’s capital on Tuesday (May 17) after a failed attempt by the parliament-appointed prime minister Fathi Bashagha to take power from his rival administration.
Bashagha had entered Tripoli overnight but withdrew as fighting rocked the capital, his office said.
In the calm of the morning, burnt out cars were seen on the streets.
His rival and the head of the country, Tripoli-based Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, toured parts of the city hours after the clashes, to survey the damage.
The crisis raises fears that Libya could be pushed back into prolonged fighting after two years of comparative peace, or returning it to partition between the eastern-backed government of Bashagha and a Tripoli administration under Dbeibah.
Libya has held little security since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted Muammar Gaddafi.
In 2014 it split between rival eastern and western factions before a 2020 truce that brought it under Dbeibah's fragile unity government.
A plan to hold an election in December collapsed amid arguments among major factions over the rules and the parliament, which had sided with the east during the war, moved to appoint a new administration.
Dbeibah rejected the parliament's moves saying his administration was still valid and he would only hand over power after an election.
Bashagha has repeatedly said he would enter Tripoli without violence.
His previous attempts to do so ended with his convoy blocked by rival factions.
Diplomacy to resolve the crisis or lay the ground for new elections is making slow progress.
With neither side apparently able to establish a decisive military advantage across the country, Libya now seems set for a longer period of deadlock, with Dbeibah firmly entrenched in Tripoli and his foes unable to take it.