Tripoli, March 29: Despite official government statements that the situation in Sebha is now calm, breaches of the truce there claimed the lives of another eight people on Thursday according to local hospital officials. The death toll is now put at 79.
A local doctor quoted by AFP, Abdel Rahman Arish, said that “the situation is very bad. At least eight bodies were brought to the hospital over the past three hours”.
Four days of fighting has pitted black Tebu Africans, who mainly live south of Sebha as well as across the border in Chad and Niger, against local Arab tribesmen backed by government forces. In Sebha itself, most Tebus live in the Hajarah district and it is reported that much of today’s clashes occurred there
Meanwhile, a Libyan army field commander in Sebha, Abdullah Ahmad Senussi, has claimed that many of the Tebu fighters are Chadians and cannot speak Arabic. There is no independent verification of this. During the clashes in Kufra last month between Tebus and the Arab Zway tribe, there were similar claims that the Tebus were being supported by fighters from Chad and Sudan’s restive Darfur province. Again there was no independent confirmation.
The fighting in Sebha has become a matter of concern for the EU which has called for “for restraint from all involved in the conflict”.
The office of Catherine Ashton, the EU’s Foreign Affairs High Representative, put out a statement on Thursday saying that ”the EU is concerned about reports of fighting in Sebha, the capital of the Fezzan region in the south-west of Libya, which has reportedly led to numerous casualties over the past days.”
It said that it urged the Libyan government “to redouble its efforts to make the parties lay down their weapons and to ensure that the wounded can be attended to, and calls for calm be restored to Sebha as soon as possible.”
The EU said it underlined “its support for all efforts aimed at national reconciliation and for the process of democratic transition in Libya.”