February 24, 2012 / 9:25 PM / 8 years ago

Southeast Libya clashes resume despite army

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Clashes have flared between rival tribes in the far southeast of Libya injuring several people, the tribes said Friday, despite Libyan troops intervening to end the fighting which has killed dozens of people in the past two weeks.

Fighting in the city of Al Kufra, near Libya’s borders with Chad and Sudan, began after a long-standing rivalry between two tribes erupted into violence, providing a fresh challenge for Libya’s new leadership which is struggling to restore stability.

Armed forces chief of staff Youssef al-Mangoush said on Thursday Libyan forces had intervened to end the fighting, in a rare example of the government in Tripoli imposing its authority over the fractious country.

However, representatives of the two rival tribes in Al Kufra, the Tibu and Zwai, said clashes had resumed again.

“The Tibu looted some houses and stole cars, we had to defend ourselves,” Adelbari Idriss, a security official from the Zwai tribe, said by telephone. “The army hasn’t done anything.”

Isa Abdel Majid, who is leading the Tibu fighters, also said fighting had resumed and Tibu living in the western suburbs of Al Kufra had come under attack. He said people had been injured but did not give a figure.

He said around 100 people on the Tibu side had been killed since the clashes began. “More than 30 of those died while they were being evacuated by road to hospitals in other towns,” he said.

It was not possible to independently verify their comments.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it had evacuated 28 sick or severely wounded people from Al Kufra, 20 of whom were flown to hospitals in Tripoli Friday.

The other eight were evacuated to Tripoli or Benghazi earlier in the week. Most were from the Tibu side, the ICRC said in a statement.

“There is less shooting now, but the situation in Al Kufra is still tense,” ICRC team leader Bruno Husquinet said.

Members of the Tibu ethnic group are mainly found in Chad but also inhabit parts of southern Libya. The Zwai tribe accused the Tibu of attacking Al Kufra, backed by mercenaries from Chad.

The Tibu said it was they who came under attack.

The region has a history of violence involving tribes. A tribal rebellion in 2009 was suppressed only after former leader Muammar Gaddafi sent in helicopter gunships.

Editing by Sophie Hares

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