A man holds a placard in Kufra, in 2008
A man holds a placard that reads in Arabic: "We the people of the Tobu tribe condemn the declarations of agents", referring to accusations of a state imposed blockade on the southeastern Libyan town of Kufra, in 2008. A fierce gunfight between two tribes in Libya's remote southeastern desert has killed at least 17 people in the past two days and wounded another 22, tribal sources told AFP. © Mahmud Turkia - AFP/File
A man holds a placard in Kufra, in 2008
AFP
Last updated: February 13, 2012

17 killed in Libyan tribal clashes

A fierce gunfight between two tribes in Libya's remote southeastern desert has killed at least 17 people in the past two days and wounded another 22, tribal sources told AFP on Monday.

Clashes between the tribes of Zwai and Tobu in the town of Kufra have killed 17 people since Sunday, including nine from the Zwai tribe and eight from the Tobu clan, sources from both the tribes said.

A source from the Tobu tribe said "shelling from the Zwai side was intense with heavy weapons."

He said that members of his tribe turned to the the National Transitional Council for help but that Libya's ruling body "did not respond and did not answer our calls."

Earlier on Monday, NTC spokesman Mohammed al-Harizi confirmed that there were clashes between two groups on Sunday.

"It was a problem between two tribes and they are working to find a peaceful solution," he told AFP, without naming the tribes.

Both groups were using light arms when the fighting initially erupted on Sunday, but the violence then intensified, with the two sides firing rocket-propelled grenades and anti-aircraft guns, sources said.

A militant from Tobu tribe said those fighting him and his comrades since Sunday were Zwai tribesmen supported by the NTC.

"There is a plan to exterminate the Tobu tribe. Our situation is worse than what it was under Kadhafi," he said without giving his name.

Members of Tobu, who are dark-skinned, were discriminated against even under the regime of slain dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

The latest clashes apparently erupted after a young man from the Zwai tribe was killed in Kufra by three dark-skinned men believed to be from the Tobu tribe three days ago, a source from the Zwai tribe said.

Tobu tribe is also present in Niger and Chad, while the town of Kufra which houses about 40,000 people, is located in a triangle sharing borders with Egypt, Chad and Sudan.

The desert town also witnessed deadly clashes during last year's anti-Kadhafi uprising, which erupted across the country and ended with the strongman's death in October.

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