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FACTDROP: Dozens killed in Libya violence


Dozens killed in Libya violence

Πηγή: FT
By Borzou Daragahi
March 29 2012

Dozens have been killed in violence between communities in the past several days in southern Libya, underscoring the country’s volatility after the downfall of Colonel Muammer Gaddafi.

Official media reported by late Wednesday that more than 50 people had been killed and 150 injured in clashes between rival armed groups in the main southern city of Sabha, which lies 170km from Libya’s Murzuk oilfields.

By Thursday, officials and a witness said, calm had been restored, with the government dispatching nearly 3,000 troops by land and air to re-establish order. A meeting of tribal elders had also helped to restore calm.

“Now the situation is quiet,” said Fadi Esmali, a freelance journalist in Sabha, reached by telephone. “I can hear the air force planes overhead bringing in more soldiers.”

The causes of the clashes, which pitted Arabs against Tabu tribesman, were murky. Some reports cited a dispute over a motor vehicle that spiralled out of control. But Mr Esmali said the violence had deeper roots in tensions between the two communities.

The Tabu, with ties to neighbouring Chad, had threatened to break away from Libya over perceived discrimination by the country’s new leaders. “If the need arises, we will demand international intervention and seek to establish a state like South Sudan,” Issa Abdul Majid Mansour, leader of the Tabu Salvation Front, declared on Wednesday, according to the English-language Libya Herald.

The Tabu were also subject to forced evictions and travel restrictions under Gaddafi. But many Libyans who supported the 2011 revolutionary war suspect them of having supported the former regime. Gaddafi imported hundreds of mercenaries from sub-Saharan Africa to help to quell the uprising.

However, Mr Esmali said the latest tensions had in fact arisen over how 5m Libyan dinars ($4m) in funds recently allocated by the interim National Transitional Council would be distributed among various constituencies in Sabha. “They fight for money, not for any other reason,” he said.

Many worry tensions could flare up again. Both sides in the fight are holding captives.

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