Tripoli, 21 April:
After a seven-week lull, renewed fighting broke out yesterday in the south-eastern town of Kufra. According to a Tebu spokesman in Kufra, the national army has been shelling the Tebu part of the town. Three Tebu had been killed and 14 wounded, three of them seriously, spokesman Hussein Allashi claimed.
He said that the army had brought in heavy weaponry and was continuing to pound the Tebu area today, Saturday. He added that the Tebus had been in contact with Fawzi Bukhatif, the commander of Suraya Al-Thuwar in eastern Libyan, asking him to mediate. He claimed that Bukhatif had said he could not because the army were “out of control”.
The fighting started on Friday after a Tebu resident was found dead the previous day. Tebus accused the army of killing the man. According to government sources, they then went on a shooting spree in the town. The source said that the army was now determined take control of Kufra’s Tebu district.
The area has effectively been an armed camp, off-limits to Libyan forces since February when clashes between Tebus and members of the Zway tribe who form the majority in Kufra resulted as many as 150 people being killed and over 250 injured. When Libya Herald’s reporter and others were in Kufra last month and tried to visit the Tebu enclave they were refused entry, it is thought because they had army guards with them.
Those clashes started on 11 February following a shooting between rival smuggling gangs and only ended after a number of failed ceasefire when the government sent in forces to keep the two communities apart. Since then there has been a tense stand-off between them.
Allashi described the latest fighting as a “continuation” of February’s clashes and accused the army of “genocide”.