New Libya army flexes muscles to halt tribal fight

Fri Feb 24, 2012 8:58am GMT

By Ali Shuaib and Taha Zargoun

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libyan troops intervened to end fighting between rival tribes in the eastern desert on Thursday, a rare example of the government in Tripoli imposing its authority over the fractious country.

Dozens of people have been killed over the past 10 days in the city of Al Kufra, near Libya's borders with Chad, Sudan and Egypt, after a long-standing rivalry between two tribes erupted into violence.

The fighting was a fresh challenge for Libya's new leadership which took over after the overthrow of leader Muammar Gaddafi last year but has struggled to restore stability, hampered by the lack of an effective national army.

Armed forces chief of staff Yousef al-Mangoush said the intervention in Al Kufra showed the national army, which has only taken shape in the past few weeks, was now capable of enforcing law and order.

"Units of the national army are now in Kufra inside the airport and will enter vital areas in the city in order to secure the city," he told a news conference.

"Now the army actually exists and its units are present and have secured the airport and the region. ... (It) will do everything in its power to solve this problem."


Representatives of the two rival tribes in Al Kufra, the Tabu and Zwai, confirmed that there was a halt in the fighting.   Continued...

Libyan military  wave their national flag as they parade along a main street in Tripoli February 14, 2012.   REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny
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