Former Libyan rebels secure a street in Kufra
Former Libyan rebels secure a street in Kufra, March 2012. Fresh fighting flared in the Libyan desert town of Kufra overnight leaving three people dead and 17 others wounded. © Mahmud Turkia - AFP/File
Former Libyan rebels secure a street in Kufra
Dominique Soguel, AFP
Last updated: April 21, 2012

3 killed in south Libya clashes

Fresh fighting flared in the Libyan desert town of Kufra overnight leaving three people dead and 17 others wounded, local sources told AFP on Saturday.

"The situation is very bad," Toubu tribe leader Issa Abdelmajid Mansur told AFP in reference to fresh fighting in Kufra, where tribal clashes claimed more than 100 lives in February.

He said that Toubu living in the southeastern town were attacked on Friday by what was meant to be a peacekeeping brigade, Shield Libya, under defence ministry command.

Mansur said cries for help to the national army had fallen on deaf ears.

"No one has come yet and we are still under fire," he said.

Residents in a Toubu neighbourhood said there was intermittent fighting since the morning.

"They've been firing since 6 am," a resident told AFP by telephone, adding that it was unclear what brought on the fighting.

A nurse in a Toubu residential area said the clashes were continuing.

"We have three people dead and at least 17 people wounded," until now, a nurse in a clinic in a Toubu residential area told AFP, adding that the majority of the wounded were in critical condition.

He expected that number to rise because "clashes are ongoing and the clinic can only provide primary care."

Gunfire could be heard in the background of both testimonies.

On Friday, Wissam Ben Hamid, head of the Shield Libya brigade, said that fighting erupted after Zwai tribesman shot dead a Toubu man.

"The Toubu reacted by firing on every car passing near their neighbourhood," Hamid told AFP, adding three of his men were wounded.

"We asked them to pull back in vain," he said.

On Saturday, Colonel Fradj Bushaala, a local representative of the defence ministry, told AFP that fighting had stopped and "negotiations were underway between tribal leaders to settle the problem once and for all."

In February, the clashes pitting Toubu against Zwai tribesmen in Kufra that cost more than 100 lives also displaced half the population, according to UN figures.

Libya's nascent army intervened by sending a brigade of former rebel fighters to uphold a hard-won ceasefire between the two camps.

Kufra, a town of about 40,000, is located in a triangle where the borders of Egypt, Chad and Sudan meet.

The Toubu, who are dark-skinned and present in southeast Libya as well as in Chad, Sudan and Niger, faced discrimination under toppled Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's regime.

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