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Manu Brabo, Associated Press
In this photo taken Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, a member of the Libyan police special forces holds his weapon as he and another stand atop a vehicle at Martyrs' Square, also known as Green Square, in Tripoli, Libya. Militias from a string of Libyan cities left Tripoli on Thursday. The withdrawal is a triumph for the residents of Tripoli, who on Nov. 15 held a mass protest against the militias, which have fueled lawlessness nationwide since the 2011 fall of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

TRIPOLI, Libya — Thousands of protesters have gathered in Libya's capital to call on unlawful armed groups to leave the city, a week after militiamen killed 43 people.

The head of Tripoli's local council, Al-Sadat al-Badri, told the crowd on Friday that the city will remain on strike until the capital and its surroundings are free of militias.

Several militias hailing from other Libyan cities already left the capital Thursday, following a popular uproar sparked by the death of 43 protesters last week. They were killed by militiamen during a march demanding the militias leave.

Since the fall of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, hundreds of militias have sprung up across Libya. The government has failed to control the groups or incorporate them into the fledgling police force and army.