Tripoli, March 28 2012:
For the fourth day, heavy fighting has continued in Sebha, Wednesday, between Tebu militiamen and local brigadesmen supported by government forces flow in to try and restore order.
At a press conference on Wednesday evening, the government spokesman Nasser Al-Mana said clashes were subsiding but that more than 70 people had died so far in the fighting. Others disagreed.
“The fighting has not stopped all day,” local Sebha resident El-Hussein Muhamed told Libya Herald by phone. “It is now taking place in Hajarah district”.
The district is a couple of kilometres south east of the city centre, just north of the airport.
According to Muhamed, who said that he had been to Sebha hospital during the day, 40 Sebha residents have been killed so far in the clashes. He said there were 20 injured people currently being treated there. They included 10 Tebus. He did not know how many Tebus had been killed. “They take their bodies to Murzuq,” he said.
A Tebu source in Murzuq confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that fighting was still continuing in Sebah. He said that 29 Tebus had been killed and another 31 wounded who were taken to Murzuq. He added the four Tebu students had been arrested in a raid on a Tebu house in Sebha.
The Tebus are reportedly well armed. Qatiba forces from Benghazi and Ajdabia are being sent to Sebha.
Meanwhile Issa Abdul-Majed Mansour, the Tebu military leader in the south of the country, has threatened to declare an independent state if the NTC does nothing to stop the fighting.
“I announce the revitalization of the Tebu Front for the Salvation of Libya to protect the Tabu from ethnic cleansing. And if the need arises, we will demand international intervention and seek to establish a state like South Sudan,” he declared on Wednesday.
“We are being massacred right in front of the NTC’s eyes,” he is reported as saying. He also alleged that a village in Kufra had been attacked by Libya fighter planes and “burned to the ground”. He accused the NTC of permitting genocide against the Tebu. He claimed there was no difference between it and the Qaddafi regime in their hostility to Tebus.
Mansour said that he wanted support Libyan unity and that the Tebu had played a key role in the revolt in the south against Qaddafi. “We have said that the unity of Libya matters above all else. But now we have to protect ourselves and other minorities.”
A Tebu spokesman in Tripoli, Abubakr Muhamed, claimed that Arab fighters were going from house to house in Sebha forcing Tebu residents at gunpoint to leave. He added that 28 injured Tebus were in the southern town of Obari waiting to be airlifted out.
Last month, fighting in Kufra between Tebus and the Zwai tribe backed by government forces claimed the lives of 130 people. The town has remained tense since then with Tebus living in an armed camp in the town. So far there has been no reports that the Sebha fighting has spread back to Kufra.