Libya’s Toubou tribal leader raises separatist bid


The head of the Toubou tribe in Libya on Tuesday denounced to AFP what he said was a plan to “ethnically cleanse” his people, and raised the threat of a separatist bid, a day after deadly clashes.

“We announce the reactivation of the Toubou Front for the Salvation of Libya (TFSL, an opposition group active under the former regime) to protect the Toubou people from ethnic cleansing,” Issa Abdel Majid Mansur told AFP.

“If necessary, we will demand international intervention and work towards the creation of a state, as in South Sudan,” he said after more than 10 people were reported killed in clashes in the southern oasis city of Sabha.

Monday’s fighting pitted Toubou tribesmen and Sabha residents, Abdelrahman Seif al-Nasr, security chief of the southern Fezzan region, told AFP.

According to Ali al-Dib, a former rebel, the clashes erupted in the city centre and resulted in between 15 and 20 dead among the ex-rebel forces.

Dib said the fighting broke out when the Toubou refused to hand over to local authorities one of their men accused of killing a man belonging to the Bussif tribe.

Mansur, formerly an opposition activist against the regime of Muammar Qaddafi, had announced the dissolution of the TFSL movement after the fall of the dead dictator’s regime.

“It turns out that the National Transitional Council and the Qaddafi regime are no different. The NTC has a program to exterminate us,” claimed Mansur, whose people played a key role in the south during last year’s revolt.

Ruling NTC member Mukhtar al-Jadal said that NTC chief Mustafa Abdel Jalil had met representatives from the south in an effort to broker a solution to the crisis in Sabha.

A local source said Toubou tribesmen who had been in “brigades of former rebels have defected and rejoined their own” people, adding that “some elements from Chad are fighting with the Toubou.”

Toubou tribesmen have also been involved in deadly clashes with another tribe in the Saharan oasis of Kufra, where two ethnic groups are locked in a standoff over smuggling.

The Toubou are traditionally oasis farmers who also have connections beyond Libya’s borders.