Trigger terror as gun fever grips Tripoli

Though the capital Tripoli is now under full control of the Libyan rebels, with almost every youngster in the country now carrying a gun, it is far from safe.

­Meanwhile, NATO says it has no immediate plans to end its operations in Libya, despite the rebels now controlling most of the country.

The Alliance is currently engaged in bombing the town of Sirte, the main pro-Gaddafi stronghold where the colonel was born.  However, the town has shown little sign of surrendering.

­Guns, guns, guns

­Libyan rebel Mohammad Errabti got a bullet in his ankle fighting against Gaddafi’s soldiers in Tripoli.  But the shot came from his own side.

“I didn’t even notice until my friend told me that my foot was bleeding. He pulled the trigger by mistake. He was so scared himself,” Mohammad remembers.

This is reality in today’s Libya. Following the rebels’ triumphant march through the country, tons of Gaddafi’s captured weapons have fallen into the hands of non-professional fighters.

One of the biggest stores was discovered at the Abu Slim top-security prison in Southern Tripoli, where inmates were released after NATO bombed the area.

Abu Slim district resident Abdu was among the first at the scene and helped to destroy the arsenal. He refused to appear on camera, still fearing revenge from Gaddafi loyalists.

“I don’t want weapons to fall into the hands of my sons or other youngsters. I’m concerned where our country will be going with that. This is a very dangerous thing, it’s not a toy,” says Abdu, the father of three young boys.

But with the country awash with arms, it looks like Libyan children have already developed a fascination for the weapons of war.

A boy named Mohammad, holding a toy pistol, says “When I grow up, I’ll have real one and I will kill bad guys like Gaddafi.”

The new authorities say that when the police are back on the streets, they will start gathering the weapons up through the mosques. The young gunmen are showing willing too, saying they will give their guns up as soon as they are asked to do so.

But many in Tripoli are afraid that that this addiction may have painful withdrawal symptoms.

The gun has become one of the symbols of the Libyan rebels and freedom. People want more peaceful symbols for their new country, but fear that it will not be easy for many to lay down their arms when the gun has played such a prominent role throughout Libya’s volatile history.

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