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31 killed in tribal clashes in southern Libya

13 January 2014, 12:01

Tripoli - Three days of fighting between tribes in a restive city in southern Libya killed 31 people, the country's health ministry reported on Sunday, as gunmen assassinated the country's deputy minister of electricity in a separate attack.

The fighting pitted the African-origin Tabu tribe against the Arab-origin Awlad Soliman tribe in the city of Sabha, at least 650km south of Tripoli. The ministry said the fighting, which began Friday, also wounded 65 people.

A local leader said Saturday that the fighting was sparked by the killing of a guard of the city's military leader, a member of the Awlad Soliman tribe, in retaliation for 2012 killings of dozens of Tabu men.

Sabha, once a bastion of support for dictator Muammar Gaddafi, was one of the last cities to fall under rebel control in 2011. It is also the last major city in Libya's far south and lies on a key road leading to the border with Niger. The downfall of Gaddafi and his allied tribes in the area have seen the Tabu gained control over the borders.

Meanwhile, gunmen killed Hassan Drouai, the deputy minister, in coastal city of Sirte late Saturday, a security official said. Drouai was shot to death near a central market, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters.

Since the fall of Gaddafi in Libya's 2011 civil war, gunmen have killed low-level government employees, activists, clerics and security officials. Draouai's slaying marks the first time a top government official has been targeted in the wave of killings.

Libya's current government has failed to rein in hundreds of militias born out of former rebel brigades — including those led by extremist Islamic commanders.

- AP


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