Libyan authorities struggling to rein in militias

Since sweeping into Tripoli in August, out-of-town revolutionaries have been striding around with Kalashnikovs and pistols that they sometimes fire skyward in displays of bravado. Residents of the capital are tiring of them, and skirmishes have erupted between outside brigades and Tripoli fighters, who say they can secure the city on their own.

The head of Tripoli’s military council, Abdulhakim Belhadj, called this week for unauthorized militias to leave the city. But some brigade members say they do not recognize him as their leader.

And with a national army that is in the process of reforming and has no commander, some say the militias’ presence is necessary.

If the outside brigades leave Tripoli, “car bombs will go off the next day,” said Mohamed Benrasali, a council member from Misurata who leads Libya’s civilian stabilization team.