Tripoli, 9 June:
Fresh clashes in the south-eastern town of Kufra between Tebus and government forces today claimed the lives of at . . .[restrict]least three men. The dead include a field commander of the government’s Libya Shield forces. He has been named as Essam Khafifi. Also killed was one Tebu man. As many as five members of the Shield forces were also reported wounded. The same number of Tebu were also reported injured.
The fighting took place in the town’s Qaderfi district, Market Street, Shara Dakhalia and near a local school. The district is largely Tebu-inhabited.
Three days ago, the Libya Shield forces gave Tebu militiamen in the town a 24-hour ultimatum to allow them into Qaderfi and Swaidiya district or they would move in by force. The ultimatum was ignored. The leader of the Tebus in south-west Libya, Isa Abdul-Majid, said at the time that any attempt by the Shield forces to enter the two districts would be “disastrous”.
According to officials, the Shield forces did not intervene until now.
As usual, however, there are diametrically opposed versions of what caused the latest clashes. “The Tebu launched an attack on the city, the army responded and fighting is continuing,” a member of the local council, Muftah Abukhalil, is reported as saying.
Abdul-Majid, on the other hand, has blamed the government forces saying they attacked a number of Tebus on Friday night at a petrol station. He also accused the head of the Libyan Shield forces, Wisam Bin Hamid, of ordering a bombardment of Tebu areas, claiming that women and children had been injured. They could not get to hospital, he said, because it was under the control of the Shield forces
However, the commander of Kufra operations room Faraj Boushaala told Libya’s Tadamon News Agency that the clashes were the result of a personal dispute between an individual Tebu and some members of the Shield forces, but did not elaborate. The latter, he said, did not want to take sides and had been ordered to withdraw. However, that an agreement had been reached to hand over the individual Tebu concerned, he added.
According to Tadamon, Tebu residents are trapped in Swaidiya and are unaware of exactly what is happening in the rest of the town. It also reports that blood supplies are running low in the hospital and that the local radio station had put out an appeal for people to come and donate blood. [/restrict]