The plight of Black Libyans (Tebu)

Fighting continues in Kufra

Sporadic clashes have continued in and around Kufra between Tebu people and the Zway tribe backed by members of various brigades flown into the southeastern oasis town by the defence ministry. According to Tebu sources on Monday, at least 113 people had so far lost their lives in the fighting, including women and children, and a further 241 wounded.

According to Associated Press, an ambulance diver in Kufra reported that a further 50 people had been killed in the past 24 hours. Three are said to be Zway. Many residents of the town are said to be fleeing in trucks, taking what possessions they can with them.

A local engineer contacted by phone by the agency, Abdurrehim Al-Shewih, was quoted as saying: “The situation is extremely bad. . . It is about who kills the most everyday.”

He is also reported as saying that no one is going out in the streets, shops are shut and that when one side takes over a square, the other opens fire and drives it out.

There is no electricity in the town as a result of the power station being hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.

There have been a number of ceasefires in Kufra since the fighting started on 11 February between the two ethnic groups but none has lasted long.

Rivalry between to the ethnic groups is longstanding, mainly over smuggling from Sudan and Chad.

The fighting is said to have started when a Zway smuggler was involved in a gunfight with a number of Tebu smugglers. It is said that he shot and killed five of them before being hunted down by three others and shot dead.

However, the conflict is also being seen in terms of national security and is said to be related to fears in the town that the local Tebu leader, Isa Abdul Majid, who had been tasked by the NTC with securing the border with Chad and Sudan, wanted to establish a separate state in the region. There have been claims that he had brought in fighters from Chad to support him. Last week, it was reported that 30 members of the Darfur rebel Justice and Equality Movement, fighting against the Zway and militiamen had been captured in Kufra. Pictures purporting to show Chadians involved in the fighting have been circulating in Libya.

The Arab Zway outnumber the black-skinned Tebu in Kufra by more than 20 to one, but their numbers are higher in the southwestern Libyan towns of Murzuk and Qatrun. Last week, in what appears to be a related incident, a bomb was reportedly thrown at security official in Murzuk. The Tebu are also found across the border in Chad and Niger.

On Tuesday, NTC spokesman, Mohammed Al-Hareizi announced that more brigades members would be sent to Kufra “to secure the southern border, to ensure that there are no foreign elements entering Libya and to secure the town of Kufra”. He called the situation there “critical”.

The previous day, the head of the armed forces, Yousef Al-Mangoush said that many more militiamen would go to Kufra if the clashes did not stop.

On Saturday, a number of people from Kufra and Tuwargha demonstrated outside the Libyan Embassy in Cairo claiming that their relatives were being attacked because of their previous support of Qaddafi’s regime. They claimed that Libyans who are black were being abused and expelled. In fact, the Tebu were early supporters of the revolution last year.

Fighting continues in Sebha as Tebus threaten to secede

Sebha residents try to flee the city

Tripoli, March 28: For the fourth day, heavy fighting has continued in Sebha, Wednesday, between Tebu militiamen and local brigadesmen supported by government forces flow in to try and restore order.

At a press conference on Wednesday evening, the government spokesman Nasser Al-Mana said clashes were subsiding but that more than 70 people had died so far in the fighting. Others disagreed.

“The fighting has not stopped all day,” local Sebha resident El-Hussein Muhamed told Libya Herald by phone. “It is now taking place in Hajarah district”.

The district is a couple of kilometres south east of the city centre, just north of the airport.

According to Muhamed, who said that he had been to Sebha hospital during the day, 40 Sebha residents have been killed so far in the clashes. He said there were 20 injured people currently being treated there. They included 10 Tebus. He did not know how many Tebus had been killed. “They take their bodies to Murzuq,” he said.

A Tebu source in Murzuq confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that fighting was still continuing in Sebah. He said that 29 Tebus had been killed and another 31 wounded who were taken to Murzuq. He added the four Tebu students had been arrested in a raid on a Tebu house in Sebha.

The Tebus are reportedly well armed. Qatiba forces from Benghazi and Ajdabia are being sent to Sebha.

Meanwhile Issa Abdul-Majed Mansour, the Tebu military leader in the south of the country, has threatened to declare an independent state if the NTC does nothing to stop the fighting.

“I announce the revitalization of the Tebu Front for the Salvation of Libya to protect the Tabu from ethnic cleansing. And if the need arises, we will demand international intervention and seek to establish a state like South Sudan,” he declared on Wednesday.

“We are being massacred right in front of the NTC’s eyes,” he is reported as saying. He also alleged that a village in Kufra had been attacked by Libya fighter planes and “burned to the ground”. He accused the NTC of permitting genocide against the Tebu. He claimed there was no difference between it and the Qaddafi regime in their hostility to Tebus.

Mansour said that he wanted support Libyan unity and that the Tebu had played a key role in the revolt in the south against Qaddafi. “We have said that the unity of Libya matters above all else. But now we have to protect ourselves and other minorities.”

A Tebu spokesman in Tripoli, Abubakr Muhamed, claimed that Arab fighters were going from house to house in Sebha forcing Tebu residents at gunpoint to leave. He added that 28 injured Tebus were in the southern town of Awbari waiting to be airlifted out.

Last month, fighting in Kufra between Tebus and the Zwai tribe backed by government forces claimed the lives of 130 people. The town has remained tense since then with Tebus living in an armed camp in the town. So far there has been no reports that the Sebha fighting has spread back to Kufra


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