Libya’s army chief on Thursday said troops were preparing to enter the southeastern desert city of Kufra, to secure the area that has been at the heart of deadly ethnic clashes.
“Units of the national army are at the airport of Kufra and will enter the city to secure it,” Yussef al-Mangush told reporters in Tripoli, adding that the situation had been calm since Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the United Nations special envoy to Libya, Ian Marti, said humanitarian agencies “were on their way to Kufra now to assess the situation there.”
At least 113 people from the Toubu tribe and another 23 from the Zwai tribe have been killed since clashes erupted on Feb. 12, according to tribal sources.
Mangush said he was unable to give an “exact toll.”
Martin faced the same problem: “At this stage we cannot offer an independent assessment of the scale of casualties.”
“But it is clear that many people have lost their lives and that there are urgent needs for medical attention to a substantive number of people who have been seriously wounded,” he said.
Kufra, a town of about 40,000, is located in a triangle where the borders of Egypt, Chad and Sudan join.
The Toubu, who are dark-skinned and present in southeastern Libya as well as in Chad, Sudan and Niger, faced discrimination under the regime of former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.
The U.N. envoy excluded the possibility of an international intervention
“Obviously, because it is happening in a border area, there may be regional concerns. But I believe that the Libyan national authorities are seeking to do what they should, which is try to mediate an end to the conflict.”
“At this stage, the only United Nations involvement is humanitarian,” Martin added.