New Libya army flexes muscles to halt tribal fight

Thu Feb 23, 2012 11:15pm GMT

* Fighting between rival tribes in desert killed dozens

* Army says intervention shows it is now a viable force

* New Libyan leaders have struggled to assert authority

By Ali Shuaib and Taha Zargoun

TRIPOLI, Feb 23 (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.   Continued...

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