Islamist-allied militias in control of the Libyan capital on Tuesday rejected the United Nations' call for a cease-fire in the battered nation, insisting instead that their rivals be disarmed.
The announcement by the Libya Dawn umbrella group followed the first round of U.N.-brokered talks between Libya's rival lawmakers, held on Monday. The talks are an attempt to bridge the gap between warring groups that have left Libya torn between two rival governments and parliaments.
Libya Dawn, which controls Tripoli and which is affiliated with the militia from the western city of Misrata, said on its Facebook page Tuesday that the only way to end the fighting is to disarm its rivals and arrest their leaders.
The statement is a setback for the U.N.-mediated talks and reflects deep polarization in Libya, which has been plunged into its worst turmoil since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
The 2011 revolt gave rise to a patchwork of heavily armed and increasingly unruly militias. The current crisis is rooted in the successive Libyan governments' dependence on those militias, originally anti-Gadhafi rebel forces, in restoring order in the absence of a strong national army or police.
The recent Islamists' takeover of Tripoli followed weeks of fighting that forced nearly a quarter million Libyans to flee their homes and prompted an exodus of diplomats and foreigners from the city. Once in control of the capital, the militias revived the country's outgoing parliament, dominated by Islamist lawmakers.
Meanwhile, Libya's elected — and internationally recognized parliament — based in the eastern city of Tobruk wields little influence beyond that city's boundaries.
Earlier, the Tobruk-based parliament denounced the Libya Dawn, saying the assault on Tripoli is an act of terrorism and passing a resolution to disarm militias controlling the capital.