Renewed tribal clashes in the Libyan city of Kufra have claimed at least 47 lives and left more than 100 wounded in three days, local leaders and a medic said on Saturday.
“Thirty-two have been killed this week in the two Toubou residential areas,” a medic treating Toubou casualties in Kufra said.
“The number of wounded exceeds 100. Women and children make up more than half of the injured, with the majority of them hurt by mortar fire,” physician Taher Wehli said.
The medic said his clinic had documented eight deaths on Saturday alone.
Tribal leader Hussein Sake said the shelling against Toubou areas in the desert city was ongoing and unrelenting.
“It is a situation of war with continuous attacks on Toubou neighborhoods,” Sake said.
“They keep shelling us, so of course now we hit back to defend ourselves,” he added.
Sake blamed the outbreak of violence on rival Zwai tribesmen and their allies, who he said include the Libya Shield brigade, a force deployed by the interim Libyan government to act as a buffer between the conflicting camps.
Brigade commander Wissam Ben Hamid said his forces were neutral and trying to broker a new truce after clashes broke out late on Wednesday.
The fighting pitted Toubou tribesmen against Zwai and other tribes, he said.
The commander confirmed the death toll was “high, about 30” and said that “negotiations are now underway to calm tensions.”
Meanwhile, Abdullah Zwai said his tribe had also suffered heavy losses at the hands of the Toubou, “with 14 people killed in the past two days.”
Toubou tribesmen on Friday attacked the Libya Shield brigade, killing one member, he said.
In February, tribal clashes in Kufra left more than 100 people dead and displaced half the population, according to UN figures.
Tensions still run high in the region, periodically escalating into deadly skirmishes between the different parties.
Toubou tribesmen in April clashed with the Daraa Shield brigade, a unit of the national army that was deployed on Feb. 23.
The latest flareup comes ahead of elections on Saturday for a national assembly, the first poll after 42 years of dictatorship under -former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, who was toppled and killed last year.
Kufra, a town of about 40,000, is located in a triangle where the borders of Egypt, Chad and Sudan meet.
The Toubou, who are dark-skinned and present in southeast Libya as well as in Chad, Sudan and Niger, faced discrimination under Qaddafi’s regime.
They complain of discrimination under the new authorities and some tribal leaders have said the Toubou are being targeted in an “ethnic cleansing campaign.”