105 killed in week of clashes in west Libya

AFP , Wednesday 20 Jun 2012

Libya's interim government spokesman says that 105 people were killed and more than 500 injured in southwest of Tripoli following a week of tribal clashes despite a ceasefire declared in several parts of the country

A revolutionary fighter points at a green flag and a banner with the words "Long live Al Fatah", which they found in Regdalin town, 5 km (3 miles) from Zuwara's city center April 4, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

A week of tribal clashes southwest of Tripoli cost 105 lives and left more than 500 people wounded, a Libyan official said Wednesday, adding that calm had returned to the mountain region.

"The death toll of clashes in the region of Sheguiga and Zintan reached 105 and more than 500 others were wounded," interim government spokesman Nasser al-Manaa told journalists in Tripoli.

The statement comes four days after Libyan authorities called for an immediate ceasefire and declared several mountain towns in the west of the country, including Sheguiga and Zintan, a "military zone."

"It was difficult for the army to intervene directly at the beginning out of fear of provoking further civilian casualties," Manaa added, adding that calm had been restored after high-level mediations with all parties concerned.

"The situation has been calm without clashes in the past two days," he said.

Manaa said a national army brigade has taken position between the rival parties to prevent further bloodshed.

The health ministry had had to mobilise 42 ambulances and dozens of doctors to the region to help evacuate casualties as well as send emergency supplies to hospitals in the towns of Zintan, Yefren, Gheryan and Mizdah.

Doctor Omar Buseifi, head of the emergency unit of the hospital of Gheryan, a city near the area of clashes, told AFP he had documented 78 deaths, the vast majority of them members of the Mashashia tribe.

He confirmed there had been no fighting or new casualties since Monday. "The situation is very stable now, I think we've reached peace," the doctor said.

The fighting, which according to local sources erupted June 11, has pitted fighters of the Mashashia tribe against gunmen from the Gontrar tribe and Zintan, 180 kilometers (110 miles) from Tripoli.

Several sources say the clashes erupted after a resident of Zintan was killed at a roadblock set up by Mashashia tribesmen.

The tribesmen, meanwhile, have accused Zintan forces of shelling their town, Sheguiga, with tank and rocket fire.

Tensions have been high between former rebels in Zintan and Mashashia tribesmen since the 2011 uprising that toppled Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

Zintan fighters are credited with having led the units which captured Tripoli from Kadhafi's forces last August. They also detained the slain dictator's son, Seif al-Islam, on November 19 and have held him since.

The Mashashia are accused by Zintan residents of having backed Kadhafi's regime in last year's conflict and of sheltering criminal elements.

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