Days of deadly tribal violence involving the use of light artillery and tanks has been sparked in the Libyan town of Sabha after an escaped monkey attacked a schoolgirl, biting her and removing her headscarf.
According to AP, the violence erupted between the Awlad Suleiman and Gadhadhfa tribes after three young men released a pet monkey belonging to a shopkeeper from the Gadhadhfa tribe. The monkey proceeded to attack a group of passing schoolgirls, pulling the headscarf off one. In response, a group of men from the Awlad Suleiman killed all three men and the monkey, from where the violence appears to have spiraled out of control.
“There was an escalation on the second and third days with the use of tanks, mortars, and other heavy weapons,” Reuters reported a resident as saying on condition of anonymity due to the deteriorating security situation.
“There are still sporadic clashes and life is completely shut down in the areas where there has been fighting.”
While definite numbers of those killed in the fighting are unclear, a spokesperson for the Sabha Medical Center told Reuters, “There are women and children among the wounded and some foreigners from sub-Saharan African countries among those killed due to indiscriminate shelling.”
Like many similar towns throughout Libya, Sabha, around 640km south of Tripoli, has been plagued by tribal and militia violence since the ousting of former dictator, Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
The authority of Libya’s various subsequent governments has had little impact in the country’s deeply tribal and sparsely populated south, where the illegal trade in people, drugs, weapons and fuel has assumed central roles in the economies and politics of many of the regions towns.
Libya is currently ruled by three governments, the House of representatives in eastern Tobruk, the unelected and UN backed, Government of National Accord, (GNA) in Tripoli and the rump of the former General National Congress (GNC) who have been operating from a hotel in the country’s capital since staging a coup there in October.
Prior to joining Tunisia Live, Simon worked as a freelance journalist. He has lived in Tunisia since 2013 and previously worked in Vietnam and Moscow.