Militia clashes in southern Libya kill nearly 50

TRIPOLI Tue Mar 27, 2012 7:55pm EDT

An injured fighter receives treatment at Sabha Hospital after rival militias clashed at the city of Sabha, southern Libya March 26, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

An injured fighter receives treatment at Sabha Hospital after rival militias clashed at the city of Sabha, southern Libya March 26, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

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TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Three days of clashes between rival militias in southern Libya spread to the centre of the country's fourth largest city Sabha on Tuesday despite the deployment of army troops trying to stop the violence which has so far killed nearly 50 people.

The clashes highlight the problems the government faces in imposing its authority following the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi last year.

Fighting between gunmen from Sabha and those from the Tibu ethnic group had reached the centre of the city, said Ibrahim Misbah, a doctor at the main hospital.

An Interior Ministry official said the army had sent 300 soldiers stationed in southern Libya to help calm the situation on Monday. Another 300 soldiers left Tripoli on Tuesday to assist, he added.

Sabha fighter Oweidat al-Hifnawi said government forces had arrived in Sabha and were "in the middle of the clashes".

"We know that they are here to try to solve the problem and not fight," he said. "There are unconfirmed reports that they have retreated out of the city."

The ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) is struggling to assert its authority across Libya, where rival militias and tribal groups are jostling for power and resources after the revolution that ousted Gaddafi.

Hampered by a lack of a coherent national army, the NTC has struggled to persuade the many militias who fought Gaddafi to lay down their arms and join the armed forces and police.

Abdulmajid Saif al-Nasser, an NTC representative for Sabha, said he was resigning in protest because he said the Council was not doing enough to stop the violence.

"I have not seen any reaction from the Council to what is happening now in Sabha. The air force has not been sent out, there was only a plane from the health ministry carrying medicine," he told Libyan television. "The state is supposed to intervene in these cases ... but there is no state."


Fourteen people were killed on Tuesday and 30 people wounded, Misbah said, giving numbers for the Sabha side. Around 20 people were killed in fighting by Monday, he said.

"The hospital crew has been working around the clock since Monday night and the injured keep coming in," he told Reuters.

Ali Galama, a Tibu representative on the NTC from Murzuq, south of Sabha, said 15 people were killed on the Tibu side and 18 were wounded. While he was speaking from Benghazi, he said he was in touch with Tibu in the area by telephone.

The fighting broke out on Sunday after a Sabha man was killed in a dispute over a car.

A fighter called Hifnawi said the clashes had moved from around the airport to the downtown area. "There are Tibu snipers all over the Sabha city centre and the number of the wounded keeps going up," Hifnawi said.

Mousa al-Koni, a Tibu representative on the NTC, said by phone from Tunis that the clashes had escalated after Tibu former fighters tried to steal a car from a member of the Sabha militia. He said a reconciliation committee was being formed to help stop the violence.

Last month, dozens of people were killed in clashes between tribes in the far southeastern province of Al Kufra. Armed forces eventually intervened to stop the fighting, in a rare example of the Tripoli government imposing its authority.

(Writing By Hadeel Al-Shalchi and Marie-Louise Gumuchian, editing by David Stamp)

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Comments (3)
Austell wrote:
“Highlights the problem ‘the government faces’ in…”

HAHA!!! There IS no government in Libya!!

Just an assortment of terrorist and Islamist gangs fighting for power…

The so called NTC is just the largest of those gangs.

Democracy in action, American style!

“Hey here’s a thought, this worked out so well for Libyans lets do it again in Syria!”


You wouldn’t even qualify for ‘world garbage collection’ let alone ‘world police’….

Mar 27, 2012 11:56pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Nobody001 wrote:
Great news. The Green Resistance is strong. And soon the rats and NATO criminals will fail.

Mar 28, 2012 6:04am EDT  --  Report as abuse
westthea wrote:
This is yet another example of NATO’s criminal acts which result in death and chaos. The agenda is to weaken African states in order for the US and EU states to reconstruct African nations in the way that is beneficial to the EU and US, and not to China, India and Russia. The best thing the African people could do is kick out US and European forces and even their leaders, as they have done with Wade in Senegal who quickly gave his support to the killers in Libya.

T. West

Mar 28, 2012 3:13pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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