Thursday, 21 June 2012

Libya: Latest clashes leave 105 dead

According to Libyan authorities, recent tribal clashes in western Libya have left 105 people dead and around 500 seriously wounded. Government spokesman Nasser al-Manaa said there had been no fighting in the area since Monday 18 June, following the deployment of the army.

The towns in the crossfire include Zintan, Mizdah and Shegayga, approximately 150km south of Tripoli. The most recent clashes are seen as a test for Libya's new government, which has struggled to assert its power.

The recent battles were mainly between fighters from Zintan, backed by another tribe known as the Guntrara from Mizdah, and armed members of the Mashashya tribe based in Shegayga.

According to experts, the conflict dates back to the Colonel Mu'ammar Qadhafi era when one tribe was given land expropriated from another. It is thought that the latest spurt of fighting was sparked by the death of a man from Zintan after he was stopped at a checkpoint, which Zintan militias have blamed on the Mashashya tribe.

Libya's ruling National Transitional Council (NTC), which took power last year, has been trying to maintain stability since the civil war ended. The latest fighting comes just weeks ahead of elections for a national assembly.

Sources: Reuters, BBC News, WSJ

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

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