Three killed in southeast Libya clashes

Tue Feb 21, 2012 7:11pm GMT

TRIPOLI Feb 21 (Reuters) - Three people were killed and 25 injured on Tuesday in clashes between rival tribes in the far southeast of Libya, a tribal source said, highlighting the challenge of policing the country's sparsely populated desert.

Clashes broke out about 10 days ago in the city of Al Kufra and have continued since. Dozens of people have been killed, the tribes have said.

The violence comes as the ruling National Transitional Council is struggling to assert its authority across Libya where rival militias and tribal groups are jostling for power and resources following the fall of Muammar Gaddafi.

Gunmen from the Zwai tribe have 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, according to a security official from the Zwai tribe. The Tibu, however, said they were the ones to come under attack.

"The fighting has stopped now but the situation is very bad. Three people were killed today," Adelbari Idriss, a security official from the Zwai tribe, said by telephone.

He quoted hospital staff as saying 25 people were injured.

He added that a group of Chadian men had taken over 30 empty houses as well as a separate housing complex after families had fled the city to nearby oases.

It was not immediately possible to independently verify his comments nor contact officials from the Tibu side.

Libyan armed forces chief Yousef al-Mangoush said on Monday military forces would intervene if the clashes did not stop.   Continued...

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