Fresh clashes erupt in western Libya between former rebels, killing 26
At least 26 people were killed in renewed clashes between armed Libyans in the western town of Zwarah, Al Arabiya reported on Wednesday.
The fresh fighting erupted in west Libya after two days of deadly clashes near the border with Tunisia.
Former rebels from Zwarah have clashed sporadically with fighters from the nearby towns of Regdalin and Jamil since Monday despite efforts by the interim Libyan authorities to mediate a lasting truce.
The fighting has exposed how volatile Libya remains, six months after a revolt last year ended Muammar Qaddafi’s rule, and how the new leadership is struggling to impose its authority on the country.
Fierce fighting erupted late Monday after former rebels from Zwarah, who say they were patrolling the border region under orders from the ministry of defense, were detained as they passed the town of Jamil.
The interim authorities said Tuesday that they had intervened and obtained their release but on-and-off fighting between the two camps continued.
Fighting resumed on Wednesday after the terms of a 12-hour truce negotiated by the authorities went unmet, Zwarah residents told AFP.
“We gave them until 11 am (0900 GMT) -- the time has passed, so I must head to the front to fight now,” Zwarah resident Shukri Mansur said.
Former rebels were stripped of their weapons and armored vehicles when they were detained in Jamil and now want them back, Zwarah residents said.
Shukri al-Arabi, head of the sole clinic in the town, told AFP that eight Zwarah residents died and 142 others were wounded in combat.
The interim authorities said Tuesday that 10 people were killed in Regdalin and Jamil, while four were killed in Zwarah, 100 kilometers (60 miles) west of Tripoli.
Since the collapse Qaddafi’s regime last October, tensions have festered in and around Zwarah, where residents belong to the Amazigh minority and fought to oust the dictator.
In most cases the violence is the result of a toxic mix of vendettas that have been simmering for generations, the huge quantity of weapons in circulation since the revolt, and the lack of a strong central authority.
An Interior Ministry official told Reuters the confrontation had started on Sunday when a group of Zwarah men hunting for game accidentally shot someone from Al-Jumail. They were briefly detained, angering people in Zwarah.
In another confrontation that has underlined Libya’s fragility, about 150 people were killed in clashes over the past week between rival tribes in the southern city of Sabha.