Tribal clashes in a southern Libya oasis over the past five days killed at least 147 people and wounded 395, the health minister said on Saturday, as the government announced that a ceasefire between the warring tribes was sealed.
“The number of people killed is 147,” said Fatima al-Hamrush, adding that the number included casualties from both sides of the conflict.
Hamrush said 395 people had been wounded, including 129 who had been brought to the capital for treatment, in clashes that pitted Toubou fighters against Arab tribesmen.
Libya’s interim government on Saturday announced a ceasefire aimed at ending the deadly tribal clashes.
“We announce that reconciliation efforts have resulted in an accord on a ceasefire,” Prime Ministerr Abdel Rahim al-Kib told reporters in the capital, adding that “calm now prevails in Sabha,” 750 kilometers (465 miles) to the south.
On Saturday at least 16 were killed in renewed clashes.
A doctor at Sabha hospital, treating Arab casualties, said eight people were killed and another 50 wounded in fighting between the early morning and noon. A Toubou tribal source said eight of their people were also killed.
“We haven’t slept since yesterday. The Toubou have been attacking Sabha since three in the morning, and they very nearly took the city. Al the residents have taken up arms to defend it,” Dr Abdelrahman al-Arish told AFP.
Adem al-Tebbawi, a local Toubou official, spoke of eight dead and “several wounded” on his side.
“We have respected a truce and we want reconciliation, but the other tribes – especially the Awled Suleiman – have not stopped attacking us for several days. We have been deprived of both water and power.”
On Friday, Toubou chief Issa Abdel Majid Mansur, a former opposition activist against the ousted regime of slain dictator Moamer Kadhafi, called for international intervention to halt what he called “ethnic cleansing.”
“We demand that the United Nations and European Union intervene to stop the ethnic cleansing of the Toubou,” Mansur said.
The fighting first erupted on Monday after Arab tribesmen accused the Toubou of killing one of their people. The first three days of clashes cost more than 70 lives, Libyan government spokesman Nasser al-Manaa said on Wednesday.
At least another 24 people have been killed since then.
The Toubou say they are defending themselves against attack by Arab tribesmen in the region, and have accused the Libyan authorities of backing those gunmen as part of a campaign of “ethnic cleansing.”
The Toubou are black oasis farmers by tradition who also have connections beyond Libya’s borders. They live in southern Libya, northern Chad and in Niger, and have previously denied having separatist ambitions.
The Toubou have also been involved in deadly clashes with another tribe in the Saharan oasis of Kufra, where ethnic groups are locked in a standoff over smuggling.