By Libya Herald reporter.
Tripoli, 29 January 2017:
Garabulli municipality says that eight local residents were killed last night when gunmen from Tarhouna attacked the town, 60 kilometres east of Tripoli. Others were wounded, it added, and a further number were still unaccounted for.
The incident followed the killing at a Garabulli checkpoint some hours earlier of two alleged copper smugglers from Tarhouna.
According to reports, the two were stopped at the checkpoint shortly before sunset and were found to be in possession of a load of copper which they were said to be taking to Misrata. Believing it to be stolen, the checkpoint guards attempted to arrest the two. However, they went for their guns and in the ensuing firefight were killed. Fighters from Tarhouna, a town 85kms southeast of Tripoli, then headed to Garabulli for revenge and a battle erupted.
The alleged copper smugglers and the Tarhouna fighters are said to have been members of the Kani brigade, a powerful militia that controls much of Tarhouna and the surrounding areas. However, the Kani, said to be pro-Islamist, dispute that they were smuggling copper and claim they attacked Garabulli because of its involvement in human trafficking.
Tarhouna’s Municipal Council have echoed this, saying that criminals from Garabulli had “treacherously attacked” its forces who were involved in preventing the smuggling of drugs and people. It said that one of its people had died, naming him as Hussam Barki. However, it put the action near Suq Al-Juma, not Garabulli. It also said that it held Garabulli’s civil and military leadership responsible for what had happened.
The Kani forces in Tarhouna have previously been accused of involvement in a number of crimes in the town, including the murder of a local army colonel, rocketing one district whose residents were sympathetic to Saif Al-Islam, and blowing up homes of its opponents.