Libyans mark 2011 uprising with eyes on interim government

File - In this Sunday Oct. 23, 2011 file photo, Libyan celebrate at Saha Kish Square in Benghazi, Libya, as Libya's transitional government declares the official liberation of Libya after months of bloodshed that culminated in the death of longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi. Ten years ago, an uprising in Tunisia opened the way for a wave of popular revolts against authoritarian rulers across the Middle East known as the Arab Spring. For a brief window as leaders fell, it seemed the move toward greater democracy was irreversible. Instead, the region saw its most destructive decade of the modern era. Syria, Yemen, Libya and Iraq have been torn apart by wars, displacement and humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File) (AP2011)

TRIPOLI – Libyans on Wednesday marked the 10th anniversary of their 2011 uprising that led to the overthrow and killing of longtime ruler Moammar Gadhafi. Many have their eyes on a recently appointed government tasked with leading Libya through elections later this year, with hopes of unifying the divided nation.

Celebrations began late on Tuesday in the capital, Tripoli, where people gathered in the city's main square amid tight security. Key streets and squares had been cleaned and decorated with banners and photos marking the anniversary.

Festivities also rang out in other cities in the south. An an apparent “targeted mortar attack” on the celebrations in the Mansheya neighborhood in the southern city of Sabha killed a child and wounded at least 29 people, including two children, according to the U.N. mission in Libya. The mission called for a prompt investigation of “this heinous attack on civilians,” and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

There were also celebrations in the eastern city of Benghazi, once known as the birthplace of Libya’s 2011 uprising. Holding Libyan flags, a few people gathered in the city’s square despite a wave of cold weather that hit the country this week.

Hassan Wanis, head of the general authority for culture in Tripoli, said celebrations and commemorative events were planned in the three regions of old Libya: Tripolitania in the west, Cyrenaica in the east, and Fezzan in the southwest.

“All people are ready to celebrate specially this time, in order to unify the country,” he said.

Faraj Rajab, a schoolteacher, said there was far too much insecurity and economic hardships to celebrate. He said he hopes the newly appointed government paves the road to elections.

“We still live with failure, corruption and destruction,” he said.