Gunmen stormed Tripoli’s Martyrs’ Square on Friday and dispersed by force a protest that was supposed to call for an end to militias in the capital and demand activation of police and army institutions.

The protesters marched peacefully demanding all illegitimate armed brigades to leave Tripoli following three days of fighting and tension in some neighborhoods. 

Later, supporters of Khalifa Haftar sneaked into the protest and changed its course. They started glorifying him and his self-styled army and chanting racist slogans against the city Misrata. Shortly, the gunmen stormed the square and started firing automatic weapons into the air to disperse the protest.

No casualties were reported.

“I went to Martyrs' Square today to call for end of militias, but some people changed the goal of the protest into another one which is Haftar support, we don’t want Haftar and we don’t want militias,” one of the protesters told The Libya Observer.  

Khalifa Haftar is a controversial figure in Libya who seeks to rule the country through his self-styled army. While he controls most of the eastern region, the western and southern regions remained out of his reach.

Reacting to the protest, Nawasi Brigade said Dignity Operation and the military rule are totally rejected.

“Dignity Operation has destroyed Benghazi and the social fabric of the city,” the brigade, which is loyal to UN-proposed Presidency Council, indicated, adding “No to another dictator in Libya.”