March 27, 2012
Three days of clashes between tribal groups in the southern Libyan city of Sabha have left at least 50 people dead and over 100 injured, reports say.
Of the total casualties, sixteen people were killed and another 60 were injured on Monday.
The clashes escalated on Sunday between former rebels and gunmen from the Toubou people, a minority ethnic group.
Despite the deployment of 300 Libyan troops on Monday to quell the fighting, the number of casualties continued to rise, an interior ministry official said. Another 300 soldiers left Tripoli on Tuesday to assist, he added.
The clashes were first centered around the airport but then moved to the Sabha city center. Sabha lies 750 kilometers (465 miles) south of the capital Tripoli.
The city of Sabha is facing a “dramatic situation,ā€¯ said Colonel Mohammed Bussif, head of the national security in Sabha, pointing the finger of blame at “outlaws backed by elements from outside the country.ā€¯
Sabha’s representative on the governing National Transitional Council (NTC) told the TV broadcaster that he was stepping down from his post to denounce government “passivity” and its “incapacity to react” to the situation.
The NTC has struggled to persuade the various militias who fought former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi to lay down their arms and join the armed forces and police.
NTC officials said national army forces had been deployed in the city and were trying to restore order.