Pope Francis’ diplomatic representative to Libya has said Tripoli is now calmer than a few days ago and the small Christian community there has had no trouble.
“The situation, to a certain extent, is under control, there is more serenity and calm than just a few days ago, and we no longer hear the explosion of bombs,” Bishop Giovanni Innocenzo Martinelli, Vicar Apostolic of Tripoli, told Fides news agency. “Let us hope that with the grace of God the situation may remain as it is.”
The Libyan capital fell to the so-called ‘Dawn of Libya’ umbrella of Islamic militants last week after days fighting against an adversary coalition.
Bishop Martinelli said: “So far, as a Christian community, we have had no trouble. Our people, although few in numbers, come to church, we are still able to experience the joy of coming together. Next Friday we will celebrate the feast of Saint Teresa of Calcutta and we expect the faithful in large numbers”.
The bishop added: “Please continue to pray for Libya, that we may find peace once again.”
Islamist militias, many of which originate from rebel forces that fought against Libya’s former President Muammar Gadaffi, became powerful players in post-war Libya, filling a void left by weak police and a shattered army.
Agencies report that successive governments have put militias on their payroll in return for maintaining order, but rivalries over control and resources have led to fierce fighting among them. The unrest has posed a constant challenge to the central government and a hoped-for transition to democracy.
On Sunday, militants stormed a US embassy residence which had been unoccupied since July 26th when its staff transferred to Tunisia.