Tripoli: 12 June:
Heavy fighting has been taking place all day, Tuesday, around the town of Mizdah between forces from Zintan and members of the Mashasha tribe. At least 19 people are reported to have died.
There has been growing hostility in recent months between the Zintanis who played a prominent role in last year’s revolution and the Mashasha who did not support it. Last December, there were clashes in which four people died.
The present fight started yesterday when the Mashasha stopped a Zintan military contingent heading to Sebha at a makeshift road block near Mizdah. In the ensuing conflict, one Zintani, who has been named as Muftah Ibrahim Al-Ramah, was shot dead and two others injured. They were taken to the local government hospital in Mizdah.
Both sides then started to gather their forces and look for allies. The Mizdah and the Al-Qantrar tribes came out in support of Zintan while Twarghans from Hun and elsewhere are said to have driven over to support the Mashasha .
In a last-minute attempt to avert clashes, a Zintani delegation went to negotiate with Mashasha elders this morning, demanding that Ramah’s body be handed over. The Mashasha refused. It is claimed that some Mashasha then went to the hospital and killed the two injured Zintanis,. However, there is no confirmation of this.
In the ensuing fighting in which both side used heavy weapons, it is reported that eight members of the Mashasha tribe, seven people from Zintan and two from Al-Qantrar were killed and 15 people wounded.
Mohamed Al-Sudani from the Mizdah hospital said that three bodies had been brought in and that three injured had been taken to Gharian hospital. An administrator at the latter, Omar Akiz, was reported by Reuters saying that two bodies had been brought in but that they had not been identified. “We have six injured”, he said.
Deputy Interior Minister Omar Khadrawi has been sent by the government to Mizdah to try to organise a ceasefire.
“There is still tension,” Khadrawi is reported as saying before leaving for Mizdah. He added that efforts were being made to contain the conflict and that investigations were underway to determine the causes of what had happened and its background.
The clashes are said to have damaged an electricity station and as a result there are power cuts in the area. A local source also said that no supplies or help had come from the Ministry of Health. According to the Libyan news agency WAL, phone lines have also been cut and the fighting forced some families in Mizdah to leave the town.
There have been frantic appeals by locals to the government to put an end to the fighting.