Libya’s newly elected House of Representatives held its first session Saturday, holed up in a heavily guarded provincial hotel as armed factions turned the two biggest cities, Tripoli and Benghazi, into battlefields.
Western governments, which have mostly evacuated their diplomats after two weeks of fighting, hope the new parliament can create space for negotiations after the worst clashes since the 2011 war that ousted Moammar Gaddafi.
But there was no sign of a let-up in the capital, Tripoli, where black smoke spread over the city again after a fuel depot near the international airport was hit for the second time in a week as rival Zintan and Misurata brigades battled for control.
Fighting in Tripoli and the eastern city of Benghazi has left more than 200 people dead, with Britain the latest Western government to announce it would close its embassy.
With its national army still forming, Libya has struggled to control armed factions that have entrenched themselves as de facto power brokers in the messy transition since Gaddafi’s one-man rule.
Elected in June, lawmakers met Saturday for an emergency session in Tobruk, a coastal city east of Benghazi, where they are supposed to form a new government capable of ending the crisis.
Government forces tightened the noose around the main stronghold of pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine on Saturday and a team of 70 international investigators were able to reach the site of downed Malaysia Airlines plane for a second day.
The seizure of Krasnogorovka and Staromikhailovka, towns just outside Donetsk, brought the army to the edge of one of the last cities still in rebel hands following its advances in the past month. The other is Luhansk, near the border with Russia.
Shelling near the area where the Malaysian airliner was downed last month forced Dutch and Australian experts to stop their search for victims at one part of the crash site, but a local cease-fire enabled them to work unhindered at the main part.
Working with sniffer dogs, they recovered more human remains and personal belongings, officials said.
— News services
China suffered its worst industrial accident in a year Saturday when an explosion killed at least 69 people and injured more than 120 at a factory in China that makes wheels for U.S. carmakers, including General Motors.
The blast in the wealthy eastern province of Jiangsu occurred about 7:30 a.m. in Kunshan city, about an hour’s drive from Shanghai, after an explosion ripped through a workshop that polishes wheel hubs.
A preliminary investigation suggested that the blast at Kunshan Zhongrong Metal Products was triggered when a flame was lit in a dust-filled room, local government officials said, describing the incident as a serious safety breach.
State media said two company representatives have been detained.
India evacuates thousands after deadly landslide: Authorities in eastern India began evacuating thousands of villagers after efforts to clear a deadly landslide in neighboring Nepal sparked concern about flash floods downstream, officials said. The landslide, triggered by heavy rains in Nepal’s Sindhupalchowk district, killed at least nine people and left more than 100 missing. Indian officials said they feared that as Nepal blasts through the landslide to clear it, a torrent of water could be unleashed inundating hundreds of villages in India’s Bihar state.
15 killed in fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh: A sharp escalation in fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh has left 15 soldiers dead and prompted Russia to call for calm. Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said Saturday that 12 of its troops have been killed in the past four days, including four overnight. Nagorno-Karabakh’s armed forces said one of its soldiers was killed early Saturday, the third in recent days. Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region and some adjacent territory have been under the control of Armenian soldiers and ethnic Armenian local troops since the end of a six-year separatist war in 1994.
Clashes, bombing leave 17 Iraqi soldiers dead: A suicide bombing and clashes left 17 soldiers dead in areas around Baghdad, Iraqi authorities said. Overnight clashes between security forces and Sunni militants in the town of Jurf al-Sakhar, in Babil province 30 miles south of Baghdad, killed at least nine troops and dozens of militants. Meanwhile, a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into a group of Iraqi soldiers in the town of Balad, north of the capital, killing eight soldiers.
— From news services