Libya declares state of emergency

Fresh clashes erupted in the southern town of Sebha when a gunmen group seized a military base

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Libya’s General National Congress (GNC) declared a state of emergency in the country on Saturday, following fresh clashes that erupted in the south when a gunmen group seized a military base, an official said according to Agence France-Presse.

The GNC, Libya’s highest political authority, made the decision during an “extraordinary session” around the situation in the southern town of Sebha, where tribal clashes have been raging for several days.

Fighting flared up again on Saturday when gunmen took control of a military base near Sabha, after several days of relative quiet, the government said.

However, earlier on Saturday, the Libyan army had recaptured the Tamenhant base, near the southern city of Sabha, Abderrazak al-Shebahi, Libya’s defense ministry spokesman said, according to AFP.

Government warplanes launched raids “against certain targets”, he added.

Shebahi also said the [gunmen] group was made up of supporters of Dictator Muammar Qaddafi, who was ousted and killed by NATO-backed rebels in October 2011.

“We know them and we are going to track where they are going,” he said.

Meanwhile, troops were sent to the country’s restive south to control the clashes Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said, according to Reuters.

“This confrontation [at the air base] is continuing but in a few hours it will be solved,” he said during a televised interview without giving further details.

During the clashes in Sabha, three soldiers were reported killed a military official said according to AFP.

Four other soldiers were wounded in the clashes that continued for a second day after an earlier truce failed, the official who spoke on condition of anonymity added.

The clashes were sparked by revenge attacks between the African-origin Tabu tribe and the Arab-origin Awlad Soliman.

Assailants attacked at least two military bases in the city, the official said.

Also on Saturday, the Libyan defense minister was sent to Mistrata to order the troops based there to move to the south, according to Reuters.

Mistrata, a central coastal city, is home to some of the most experienced soldiers and militias, battle-hardened from the 2011 uprising.

“The troops from Misrata have been commissioned by the government to conduct a national task ... to spread security and stability in the region,” Zeidan said.

Earlier this week, fighting in Sabha killed 31 people. The city was one of the last to fall under rebel control during Libya's 2011 civil war.

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