By Saber Ayyub and Ajnadin Mustafa
Tripoli, 18 December 2015:
Continuing heavy clashes in Ajdabyia which broke out on Wednesday between the pro-Islamist . . .[restrict]Adjabiya Revolutionaries’ Shoura Council (ARSC) and Salafist fighters supporting the Libyan National Army (LNA) have left some 17 people dead, according to the local reports. A further 27 have been wounded; they include non-comnbatants.. The fighting started when a member of Al-Sharia, part of ARSC, was accused of murdering a local man outside a mosque. Salafist youths quickly joined the fight which then spread.
“The clashes started between a Salafist group linked to the LNA and an Ansar Al-Sharia group in the western suburb of the town,” a local resident told the Libya Herald. “No formal units of the army have entered the town today apart from some members of 302 brigade which secures the western side of Benghazi city,” he added.
One of the those killed today was said to be local municipal councillor Abdulmonem Al-Fakieh, who was close to the clashes. He was shot apparently by a stray bullet.
Ajdabiya mayor Salem Jadhran has called for a ceasefire and for the combatants to respect the town’s civilian population. He is reported saying there had been indiscriminate shelling of residential areas but that the two sides had agreed to stop fighting today. The ARSC, however, is reported to have said that no truce had been accepted.
The clashes came after the mayor had rejected an announcement by the LNA that it was going to target ARSC positions in the town. He claimed that local forces could deal with the militants themselves.
Salem’s brother, Ibrahim Jadhran has kept his Petroleum Facilities Guards out of the fight although they have been seen mobilising in Ajdabiya’s suburbs.
Meanwhile, the local Mohamed Magarief hospital says that it is having to deal with the wounded despite acute shortages of medical supplies including anaesthetics and blood for transfusions, and of staff because of the dangerous situation. A spokesman said that it was working round the clock, denying reports that it had been evacuated because of the fighting.
Expressing his own concern about the Ajdabiya fighting, UN Special Anvoy Martin Kobler said today that civilians had to be protected and that anyone involved in indiscriminate attacks and attacks targeting civilians could find themselves been prosecuted for war crimes. The fight against terrorism, he said, “has to respect international humanitarian principles”.