Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Libya: Clashes between rival factions leave two dead

A weekend of clashes between rival factions, in the town of Gharyan about 80km south of Tripoli, has left at least two people dead and more than 40 injured. The authorities say they are now in a process of putting together a force to disarm the supposed Colonel Mu'ammar Qadhafi loyalists.

Speaking to the BBC, local officials in the town said they feel powerless in controlling their own revolutionary groups. According to a number of other sources, in the hills surrounding the town, revolutionary forces are again battling in full force, their anti-aircraft guns mounted on the backs of pickup trucks heading west toward the town of Assabia.

It is thought that the fighting began on Friday 13th January and continued throuought the weekend. The following day, Libya's Defence Minister Osama al-Juweili travelled to Gharyan to try to encourage a ceasefire but to no avail.

On Sunday 15th January, a group of tribal elders arrived in Gharyan in an attempt to mediate in the conflict and negotiate a prisoner exchange. The confrontations, however, continue.

Despite government's calls to disarm, various factions remain at large and seem to have no intention of joining the national army – an initiative proposed by Tripoli.

Some fear that there is a danger of a civil war, if the militias do not give up their weapons. The situation remains tense and the country's future is still unclear.

Sources: Reuters, Bloomberg, BBC News

For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focus and Libya Politics & Security.

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