By Jamal Adel:
London, 1 March 2018:
Communal fighting has continued in Sebha with locals saying ten civilians and eight combatants had died as violence continues between the Tebu and Awlad Suleiman tribes following a spike last month.
Sebha Medical Centre was also hit by shelling as large and small arms were used by groups involved. Large parts of downtown Sebha remain inaccessible amid haphazard shooting and the presence of snipers.
Yesterday morning five members of the Awlad Suleiman were killed when they launched an attack on the ‘People’s Hall,’ currently held by the Tebu.
The Faiez Serraj-led Presidency Council (PC) finally broke its silence yesterday, accusing “mercenaries” and “foreigners” of attacking the government-backed Sixth Brigade, which is largely comprised of Awlad Suleiman. The PC urged Libyans to stand against mercenaries, protect Libya’s southern resources and defend the country’s sovereignty.
Accusations have flown around that Chadian mercenaries have been involved. However, the National Tebu Assembly (NTA) has issued a counter-statement and denounced the PC’s version of events. It urged for an independent fact-finding commission to truly assess what was going on in Sebha.
This would not be possible if the PC continued to be biased in favour of the Awlad Suleiman, the NTA said.
Fighting erupted last month as tit-for-tat killings took place between the Tebu and Awlad Suleiman. Mediation efforts pushed by the House of Representatives have so far failed to deliver a halt to clashes.
The tense situation has further been confused by the Hafter-led Libyan National Army claiming to have integrated the Sixth Brigade into its forces. This was denied by the brigade soon after, who reaffirmed their backing of the PC’s Ministry of Defence.