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Libya: Clashes kill at least 16 in two days

Clashes in southern Libya between government forces and tribal fighters claimed the lives of at least 16 people in two days.

Libya tribal clashes kufra june 10 2012Enlarge
A man sits next to an anti-aircraft artillery weapon as hundreds of heavily armed Libyans from a "Pro Sharia" group demonstrate in front of the courthouse in Benghazi, for the implementation of the Sharia Law across Libya. Tribal clashes between government forces and tribal fighters in southern Libya have left dozens dead on June 10, 2012. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

Fighting between government forces and tribal fighters has continued for a second day in the southern Libyan town of Kufra, according to the BBC.

The BBC estimated that a total of 16 people, including women and children, had been killed since Saturday, while Agence France Presse reported that 23 had died since the fighting began.

The AFP said the tribal fighters were from Libya's Toubou minority and at least 20 of their number had been killed in the last two days, according to Doctor Taher Wehli.

The government said the clashes began after members of the Toubou tribe attacked a checkpoint and attempted to steal the government's vehicles, said the BBC. The Toubou tribe says the security forces attacked first and was trying to "exterminate" them.

A BBC correspondent in Tripoli said the clashes are believed to be connected to a turf war over smuggling routes.

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Reuters said at least 13 people were killed during the second day of clashes, citing a security official. Abdelbari Idriss, a city security official, said, "The [Toubou] tried to attack the city at 4 a.m. (0200 GMT) this morning with tanks and weapons. Three soldiers and six citizens were killed. There are many injured."

According to a local security official, shops and schools in Kufra were closed and the electricity was cut off, reported the BBC.

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The government forces were present to oversee a tentative truce between the Toubou tribe and the rival Zwei tribe after ethnic clashes in February, said the BBC.

Reuters noted that the tribal areas of Libya in the southeast have a history of violence. A tribal rebellion in 2009 was only suppressed after former dictator Muammar Gaddafi sent in helicopters.

The BBC reported that the elections planned for later this month in Libya had been postponed to July 7.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/120610/libya-clashes-kill-at-least-16-in-two-days