By Beata Oleksy.
Tripoli, 4 January:
A fragile calm held in Sebha today after six days of fighting between the Qadhadhfa and Awlad Suleiman tribe left several people dead and wounded, and saw schools and local businesses in the area temporarily closed.
Sources in the town told the Libya Herald that the dispute began when a member of one of the two tribes reportedly stole a car from a member of the other, resulting in a gun battle that left one person dead. It is currently unclear which tribe the first casualty belonged to, but the death seems to have sparked off a cycle of revenge attacks across the town.
The atmosphere in the town was tense during the six days, and small arms fire could periodically be heard around the town as Qadhadhfa and Awlad Suleiman tribesmen clashed.
Yesterday, the Libya Herald reported that four members of the Qadhadhfa were killed in a shootout in the town’s Al-Manshiya area of the city and that a Magarha tribesman who was also wounded as he tried to give first aid to the wounded.
Army special forces units commanded by the head of the Sebha operations group Wanis Bukhamada entered the town on 31 December after six people were killed in the inter-tribal fighting.
The troops imposed a temporary truce and arrested several people who opened fire in the national army units, but it seems that their intervention was not enough to snuff out the internecine clashes, as fresh casualties were reported soon after.
Today’s calm came after head of the General National Congress Mohamed Magarief visited Sebha with a delegation of senior government officials, apparently to discuss conditions in the southern town after it was included in the “closed military zone” declared by the GNC last month.
While a GNC media officer confirmed that Magarief and his delegation had met with tribal leaders on the visit, he would not confirm that officials had taken part in efforts to bring fighting in the town to an end.