Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Misrata celebrates end of Gaddafi

A parade in battle-scarred Misrata celebrated victory over Muammar Gaddafi's regime (AP)

Fighters and residents in battle-scarred Misrata have celebrated victory over Muammar Gaddafi's regime with a parade of tanks and anti-aircraft guns.

Revolutionaries riding on a dozen tanks and scores of trucks equipped with heavy weapons rode through the main Tripoli Street, which was badly damaged during a lengthy siege of the city by Gaddafi loyalists.

Horsemen in traditional Libyan dress led one of the convoys, and one of the tanks swerved wildly to cheers from onlookers.

The uprising against Gaddafi erupted in February and quickly escalated into a civil war that ended last week with his capture and death.

Misrata's fighters played a key role in the war. After breaking the siege, they helped capture the capital of Tripoli and other cities, including the loyalist stronghold of Sirte last week.

Mohammed Darras, a 29-year-old Misrata resident who lost his father and three cousins in the war, watched with pride as the parade passed by. "We have a rosy future ahead of us," he said.

But the new Libya faces a host of problems, including huge numbers of weapons in the hands of civilians and uncertainty about the transition to democracy.

The image of the former rebels has also suffered amid allegations that they have mistreated prisoners and that those who captured Gaddafi killed him in custody.

Misrata, the third largest city in Libya with some 300,000 residents, has suffered considerable losses in the war. Dr Abu Bakr Traina, head of the city's medical committee, said at least 1,280 people had been killed since February, with many others still missing.

A smaller celebration was also held in Tripoli's Martyrs' Square on Friday, when dozens of chefs with knives lined up to cut a huge cake decorated in red, black and green - the colours of Libya's new flag.

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