Jubilant Libyans marked a major step toward democracy after decades of erratic one-man rule, voting Saturday in the first parliamentary election after last year's overthrow and killing of longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
But the joy over the historic vote was tempered by boycott calls, the burning of ballots and attacks on polling centers in Libya's restive east. It was the latest unrest in a chaotic transition that has exposed major fault lines in the oil-rich North African nation - the east-west divide and efforts by Islamists to assert power.
Lines formed outside polling centers more than an hour before they opened in the capital Tripoli, with policemen and soldiers standing guard and searching voters and election workers before they entered.
"I have a strange but beautiful feeling today," dentist Adam Thabet said as he waited his turn to cast a ballot. "We are free at last after years of fear. We knew this day would come, but we were afraid it would take a lot longer."
The election for a 200-seat parliament, which will be tasked with forming a new government, is a key milestone after a bitter civil war that ended Qaddafi's four-decade rule.
But the desert nation of 6 million people has experienced a rocky transition since Qaddafi was killed by rebel forces in his home city of Sirte in late October. Armed militias operate independently, refusing to be brought under the umbrella of a national army, and deepening regional and tribal divisions erupt into violence with alarming frequency.