By Libya Herald reporter.
Tripoli, 20 November 2016:
Efforts by local elders to ensure peace between members of the Awlad Sulaiman and Qaddadfa tribes again failed to produce an effective ceasefire in Sebha today. Although there was a relative reduction in fighting, clashes continued between between the two, despite claims to contrary. In one incident during the day, a house was reportedly destroyed by a shell killing an entire family.
The death toll in this latest bout of bloody fighting between the long-time rivals which broke out four days ago is now put at 48 with some 60 wounded. Twenty of the latter, mainly Misratis, have been airlifted to Tripoli for treatment.
In a statement today, the so-called Sixth Force, which comprises members of the Awlad Sulaiman, historically the dominant power in Sebha and now allied to Misrata’s Third Force based in the town, claimed that gunmen from Sudan’s rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) were present fighting alongside the Qaddadfa.
This has not been confirmed although observers say it is not implausible.
JEM was supported by Qaddafi for several years in its battle in Sudan’s Darfur province against Khartoum and, during the 2011 revolution, sent gunmen to southern Libya to back him. Over the past year, there have been constant reports of JEM and related forces who are unable to return to Sudan operating as free-booting mercenaries in Libya. As such, there would be little surprise if they linked up to Qaddafi’s southern tribesmen.
Although sources in the Libyan National Army have denied allegations that these Sudanese rebels have been fighting with them and were responsible for the occupation of the eastern oil fields and terminals, there have been persistent reports to that effect. This newspaper has been told by reliable sources of some 860 Sudanese rebel fighters with some 65 vehicles now with the LNA in the oil crescent area.
Meanwhile, in a further bid to try and bolster mediation efforts, a group of elders from the west of the country flew this afternoon from Tripoli to Sebha. They took with them medical and other supplies organised by the Presidency Council (PC), in particular by Musa Koni, himself from Fezzan.
He has praised the efforts of the elders to end the crisis.
As well as the PC, numerous other organisations in the country have called on the two tribes to end the bitter conflict.