By Jamal Adel.
Tripoli, 11 January 2014:
Violent clashes between Tebu tribesmen and members of the Awlad Sulieman clan are ongoing in Sebha this evening where casualties are estimated to include at least 19 dead and 45 wounded.
The head of Sebha’s local council, Ayoub Al-Zaroug, compared scenes today on the ground to a war zone, describing street battles and the frequent sound of heavy artillery. He told the Libya Herald that, while the chaos of fighting made it impossible to know exact figures, reports indicated that 19 had been killed in the clashes.
Sebha Airport has been closed due to the fighting and all flights have been cancelled.
Fighting erupted in Sebha last night following the assassination of one of the city’s revolutionary commanders, Mansour Al-Aswad, by Tebu gunmen in Traghen. The killing was said to have been in revenge for the deaths of over 40 Tebus during clashes in Sebha nearly two years ago.
As fighting continues tonight in the city, with no end in sight, there are fears that the tribal violence seen during three days of fighting in Sebha in March 2012, which left 40 Tebus and 30 members of the Arab Awlad Sulieman tribe dead, has returned.
The security situation in Sebha has deteriorated in recent months, with sporadic gunfights and assassinations becoming commonplace. At the end of December, Sebha Local Council was forced to suspend work because of security concerns.