[QODLink]
Africa
Deaths as rival militias clash in Libya
Dispute over a vehicle leaves a score dead and more than 40 wounded in the south.
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2012 01:47

Clashes between rival militias in southern Libya have killed 20 people, a doctor at a regional hospital said, highlighting the challenge the government faces in imposing its authority months after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.

A local doctor, Ibrahim Misbah, said on Monday that 20 fighters died of gunshot wounds and more than 40 people were wounded.

Local council member Ahmed Abdelkadir said clashes first broke out on Sunday between former rebel fighters from Sabha, Libya's fourth largest city, and gunmen from the Tibu tribe after a Sabha man was killed in a dispute over a car.

He said the militias opened fire at each other on the outskirts of Sabha.

"The numbers are from the Sabha side only. The Tibu wounded are being taken to a different hospital," Misbah said by phone.

Sabha fighter Oweidat al-Hifnawi said the fighting centered around the airport road and that at one point Tibu fighters controlled the entrance of the airport.

"The airport is now under our control but it is not functioning at the moment," Hifnawi said.

A witness added that the tail of an airplane on the tarmac was hit in the fighting.

It was not immediately possible to reach the Tibu side.

Asserting power

The clashes come as the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) struggles to assert its authority across Libya, where rival militias and tribal groups are jostling for power and resources following the fall of Gaddafi.

"The situation is very dangerous and sensitive. We are following the situation and the army chief is working on sending a defence team to Sabha," deputy interior minister Omar al-Khadrawi told Libyan television.

The NTC is hampered by the lack of a coherent national army and has struggled to persuade the myriad militias who fought Gaddafi to put down their guns and join the armed forces and police.

Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, NTC chief, agreed on Monday with critics that his government is not providing strong enough leadership.

"I am not satisfied with the performance of the government or the NTC, because it is too slow in making decisions and is weak and lacks confidence in its decision making," Abdul-Jalil told The Associated Press news agency during a visit to the eastern city of Benghazi.

Last month dozens of people were killed in days of clashes between tribes in the far southeastern province of Al Kufra.
Government security forces eventually intervened to stop the fighting in a rare example of the Tripoli bureaucracy imposing its authority.

Abdul-Jalil said incompetent ministers may be dismissed in the coming months, but he gave no specifics.

A 200-member assembly to be elected in June has the job of appointing new cabinet ministers.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
Featured
Booming global trade in 50-million-year-old amber stones is lucrative, controversial, and extremely dangerous.
Legendary Native-American High Bird was trained in ancient warrior traditions, which he employed in World War II.
Hounded opposition figure says he's hoping for the best at sodomy appeal but prepared to return to prison.
Fears of rising Islamophobia and racial profiling after two soldiers killed in separate incidents.
Group's culture of summary justice is back in Northern Ireland's spotlight after new sexual assault accusations.