Three killed in tribal clash in Libya

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 23, 2012 6:43 PM
Three killed in tribal clash in Libya

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - At least three people were killed and eight were wounded in a tribal clash near the Libyan town of Zlitan on Thursday, an official source said, testing transitional efforts to improve security after an uprising ended Muammar Gaddafi's rule.

Heavy weaponry was used in the violence, including 14 mm anti-aircraft canons, the source said.

The clash was sparked by a dispute between two families from the al-Haly and al-Fawatra tribes. The source could not say what the dispute was about.

An army deployment managed to impose a truce between the two warring tribes. The source had initially said at least 12 people were killed before he corrected the death toll.

"Security forces have not been sent in immediately (to intervene). It's not wise when things are this raw ... The army's deployment has allowed us to take first hand account of casualties in this tribal clash," the source added.

The clash follows the death of two people in Tripoli last week. It was the first deadly bomb attack in Libya after Gaddafi's fall and came after a freshly elected assembly put security among its top priorities.

The assembly took power earlier this month from the now-dissolved National Transitional Council, the political arm of the opposition forces that toppled Gaddafi a year ago.

Calming regional rivalries is a tough issue for Libya's new leaders and the recent violence highlights the difficulties of restoring security.

Gaddafi's repressive rule kept in check deep-running animosities in Libyan society, which often pitted villages, cities or tribes against their neighbors. His death has brought back old feuds to the surface.

The ability of the new leaders to assert their authority was bound to face the test of the massive arsenal left after Gaddafi's fall, especially in areas that witnessed the heaviest fighting like Misrata, near Zlitan.

The Libyan assembly has pledged to disarm the militias that were formed to fight Gaddafi's rule, but there is no timetable for that and in the meantime the weapons give tribes in some areas more military might than the fragile government in Tripoli.

(Reporting by Taha Zargoun; Writing by Souhail Karam; Editing by Jon Hemming and Christopher Wilson)