By Libya Herald reporter.
19 April 2017:
Fighting in Tarhouna on Monday is now said to have resulted in some 15 people, almost all from one family, being killed according to the local municipal council.
The dead, mostly from the Basbusa family, are said to have included three children and a 70-year-old wheelchair-bound man.
Reports claim that those responsible were the local Kani brigade, a outwardly Islamist, family-controlled militia which now dominates the formerly pro-Qaddafi town.
It is said that members of the Basbusa family attacked the town’s joint operations rooms after one of its members had been arrested. A number of the attackers are believed to have been killed in the assault but it also resulted in one of the defenders –a member of the Kani brigade – being injured. The brigade then allegedly attacked others of the Basbusa family.
For its part, though, the municipal council has denounced reporting of the issue, claiming that the press plus social media in Bani Walid and the Wirshefana area were deliberately stirring up what it insisted had simply been a local incident. It accused them of interfering in an “internal affair”, claiming that the local authorities were perfectly able to deal with it. The town was otherwise perfectly safe, it alleged. In gesture of defiance, it closed the road from Tarhouna to Bani Walid.
Local elders too have tried to gloss over the killings claiming the town is stable.
Far from calming the situation, the stance has resulted in angry rejection of it on social media and elsewhere.
In a statement today condemning the killings, UN special envoy Martin Kobler demanded a prompt and full investigation into what happened, and those responsible brought to justice. Witnesses and relatives of the victims also had to be protected, he said.
“It is time to ensure accountability for such shocking crimes. I call on the Government to provide the necessary support to prosecutorial authorities to investigate this and other such cases in Libya,” he insisted.
The Kani brigade has been accused of responsibility for a number of other outrages.
They were accused of involvement in the slaughter of the Habshi family in March 2015. In August the same year, following protests in part of the town at the death sentences passed on Saif Al-Islam and Abdullah Senussi, the brigade shelled the area when it was blocked from entering it and arresting the protestors. Five months later, three people were reported to have been killed in clashes between the Kani and local opponents. The brigade allegedly responded by blowing up the opponents’ homes.
Almost a year ago, the family of a murdered local colonel, Abdullah Sweissi, accused the brigade of responsibility for his killing.
Most recently, in January, the Kani were accused of carrying out the Garabulli massacre in which at least eight civilians died.