Tribes clash in south Libya - 100+ dead

2012-02-21 22:45

Tripoli - Fierce clashes between two tribes in Libya's remote southeastern desert have killed more than 100 people over the past 10 days, tribal sources said on Tuesday.

At least 113 people from the Toubu tribe and another 20 from the Zwai tribe have been killed in the desert town of Kufra since the fighting between them erupted on February 12, the sources said.

"We are under siege for a week. Since the start of the clashes, 113 people [from our side] have been killed, including six children," Toubu chief Issa Abdelmajid told AFP by telephone.

He said another 241 members of his tribe have been wounded in the raging battles with members of the Zwai tribe.

Abdelmajid, a former opponent of Muammar Gaddafi who fought the slain dictator's forces in last year's conflict, was previously tasked by the ruling National Transitional Council with monitoring Libya's southeastern border.

At least 20 people from the Zwai tribe have also been killed and another 40 wounded in the clashes, said Yunus Zwai, spokesperson for the Kufra local council.

"People from Toubu tribe are being helped by foreign elements from Chad and Sudan. We have arrested several Chadian and Sudanese fighters," he said.

Both groups were using light arms when the fighting erupted, but the violence intensified, with the two sides firing rocket-propelled grenades and anti-aircraft guns, local sources said.

Smuggling routes

"I appeal to the international community to intervene and stop these clashes which are aimed at exterminating my tribe," said Abdelmajid.

"We tried calling the NTC but it has not responded," he added.

Libya's official LANA news agency quoted NTC spokesperson Mohammed al-Harizi as saying that the situation in Kufra was "not calm".

"There is an armed conflict between certain members of the society there in which several have been killed and wounded," Harizi said on Monday without specifying the number of casualties.

An NTC source, on condition of anonymity, said that control of lucrative smuggling routes was at the root of the conflict.

Zwai, meanwhile, said those fighting members of his tribe were not Libyan Toubu tribesmen, but "foreign elements".

"There is an invisible hand in the fighting. The Libyan Toubu are safe in their homes," he said.

Members of the Toubu tribe are dark-skinned and present in southeastern Libya as well as in Chad, Sudan and Niger.

Kufra, with a population of about 40 000 people, is located in a triangle sharing borders with Egypt, Chad and Sudan. The Toubu tribe faced discrimination under Gaddafi's regime.

- SAPA
Read more on:    libya  |  north africa
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