TRIPOLI: Fighting between rival tribes that has rocked a southern Libya town for weeks has so far killed more than 31 people since the beginning of May, a medical source said Sunday.
Eight of them were killed on the weekend when the violence flared in Sebha, around 600 kilometers south of the capital Tripoli, the source said, adding that 18 others were wounded in the clashes.
Sebha, where tribal rivalries have frequently spilt over into bloodshed, has been rocked by violence since February. Saturday, the rival tribes fought for the control of an ancient hilltop citadel overlooking Sebha, an area known for its smuggling routes.
The fighting is pitting the Arab Alwad Suleiman tribe against the Tubus, who are repeatedly accused by their detractors of including foreign fighters, namely from Chad, in their ranks.
Since the beginning of May more than 31 people have been killed and 121 wounded in the tribal clashes, the medical source said speaking on condition of anonymity.
The U.N. mission in Libya UNSMIL has repeatedly expressed serious concern for the ongoing escalation in fighting.
A statement posted on its Twitter account late Saturday said UNSMIL is “deeply disturbed at the most recent escalation in Sebha.”
It said it deplored the death of “some civilians” in the clashes and called on both sides to observe restraints. Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj has also called for a cease-fire in Sebha.
A U.N.-backed unity government based in the capital Tripoli and headed by Sarraj has struggled to assert its authority outside the west, and military strongman Khalifa Haftar controls much of the east.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 14, 2018, on page 10.