UPDATE 1-Five killed in clashes in southeast Libya

Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:34pm GMT

(Updates death toll, adds details)

By Ali Shuaib

TRIPOLI Feb 13 (Reuters) - At least five people have been killed in clashes between rival tribes over control of territory in the far southeast of Libya, officials said on Monday, highlighting the challenge of policing the country's sparsely populated desert.

Violence broke out on Sunday in the remote city of Al Kufra and continued into Monday.

Libya's National Transitional Council has struggled to assert its authority across the whole of Libya as rival regional militias and tribal groups jostle for power and resources following the fall of Muammar Gaddafi.

Local gunmen from the Zwai tribe clashed with fighters from the Tibu ethnic group led by Isa Abdel Majid, whom they accuse of attacking Al Kufra backed by mercenaries from Chad, Abdelbari Idriss, a security official from the Zwai tribe, told Reuters.

Abdel Majid's men, who supported the Libyan rebels during the 2011 uprising that ousted Gaddafi, had set up camp in Jalu north of Al Kufra on Sunday and were holding out there, Idriss said, but another source said fighting was still going on.

Farhat Abdel Karim Bu Hareg, coordinator of Social Affairs in the local government of Al Kufra, criticised the NTC for neglecting the southeast though Al Kufra province is Libya's largest and straddles the borders of Sudan and Chad.

He said the region would be forced to declare independence unless it received support to end what he said were attacks by mercenaries. "I would like to reiterate that if no response is made to rescue the people, we will be forced to declare our independence".   Continued...

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