Yesterday’s dispute over a car in the southern Libyan city of Sabha has still not calmed down, and the gunbattle between two tribal factions continued apace, with reports indicate that nearly 50 people have been killed, and scores of others wounded.
The fighting is between the Tabu tribal militia, which killed a member of the Abu Seif tribe in the city, and a militia of city dwellers from Sabha, the only major city in southwestern Libya.
The National Transitional Council (NTC) sent 300 troops yesterday in an attempt to calm the fighting. The troops ended up caught up in the fighting early on, and by the evening there were reports that they had fled to the outskirts of town. The NTC deployed another 300 troops today, but it isn’t clear when they will arrive.
Tabu chief Abdel Majid Mansour claimed that the violence was an attempt to “ethnically cleanse” his faction, and threatened to launch a full scale secessionist bid, citing South Sudan as a model. With attempts to establish an autonomous region already active in Cyrenaica, this would be the second major campaign for the fledgling NTC to tackle.