At least 105 people have been killed and more than 500 injured in week-long clashes between rival tribes in western Libya, the country's transitional government said on Wednesday.
Government spokesperson Nasser El-Manee told reporters that fighting ceased in the mountainous area after security forces were deployed on Monday. Affected region includes the towns of Zintan, Mizdah and Shegayga, located some 90 miles south of capital Tripoli.
"There was use of both heavy and light weapons. The armed forces are now on the ground and calm has returned," El-Manee told a Tripoli press conference.
It is reported that the clashes, which began on June 11, were between the Zintan militia, which played an important role in last year's armed uprising that toppled the dictatorial regime of Col. Moammar Qadhafi, and the rival El-Mashashia tribe, which did not take part in the rebellion.
The clashes were triggered after a Zintan fighter was shot dead after he was stopped at a checkpoint last week. The Zintan militia has blamed his killing on the El-Mashashia tribe and launched retaliatory attacks. Incidentally, rivalry between the two sides dates back to the Qadhafi era, when land expropriated from one tribe was given to the other.
The latest developments come as Libya is in the midst of preparations for its first-ever free polls on July 7 to elect a 200-member Constitutional Assembly, which will oversee the drafting of a new Constitution and form a government.
Nevertheless, Libya's governing National Transitional Council (NTC) is still struggling to enforce its authority in the country and has so far failed to contain the violence unleashed by the revolutionary brigades that helped in deposing the Qadhafi regime.
Most of Libya, particularly Tripoli, has been under the control of several armed militia groups since the fall of Qadhafi. Violent clashes often break out between the rival militias, mostly in Tripoli. Their continued presence in Libya even after the civil war has raised concerns about the possible outbreak of further violence in the North African nation.
by RTT Staff Writer
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