In Libya, fighting casts pall over Ramadan holiday

SHAFAQNA - Although the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan began last week, many Libyans say they are unable to feel the holiday spirit this year due to the armed conflict that has continued to ravage the North African country.

“We don’t feel Ramadan this year because all the places we usually gather in during the holy month are now rocked by violence,” Benghazi resident Naji al-Toumi said, adding that many of the city’s residential areas had “become battlefields.”

Since late 2014, many Libyan cities – particularly the big ones – have witnessed intense fighting between various armed factions.

Frequent artillery shelling, meanwhile, has claimed scores of civilian lives and reduced numerous homes to rubble.

“We had hoped the fighting would wind down during Ramadan, but this didn’t happen,” Nouri Balrowin, head of Libya’s state-run National Oil Corporation, told Anadolu Agency.

“We have to fast and have Iftar [Ramadan evening breakfast] with the sound of artillery in the background, while occasionally hearing tragic news about the death of friends or relatives,” he added.

Tarek Rajab, for his part, who hails from capital Tripoli, complained that frequent hours-long electricity outages “make it difficult to fast, especially that we can’t use air conditioners during the summer.”

Libya has remained in a state of turmoil since a bloody uprising in 2011 ended the decades-long rule of strongman Muammar Gaddafi.

In the more than three years since, the country’s sharp political divisions have yielded two rival seats of government, each of which has its own institutions and military capacities.

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