Heavy fighting between gunmen in western Libya on Tuesday killed four people and left several more wounded, a local official told AFP.
“At least four people were killed today but that number could rise,” said Othman Ben Sassi, a member of the ruling National Transitional Council, and a native of Zwarah, 100 kilometers (60 miles) west of Tripoli, near Tunisia.
He added that the exact number of casualties remained unknown.
“The situation is critical in Zwarah. It is being hit by rockets fired from the (nearby) towns of Regdalin and Jamil,” he said.
Tensions have simmered in and around Zwarah since the collapse of slain leader Muammar Qaddafi’s regime last October. Residents there were accused of supporting the dictator during the 2011 conflict.
Libyan Interior Minister Fawzi Abdelali told journalists on Tuesday that efforts were underway to put an end to the fighting.
“The interior ministry has sent a force of 200 men towards the region,” he said, urging both sides to act with restraint.
Zwarah lies on the main highway linking Tripoli to neighboring Tunisia, a vital supply route for the Libyan capital.
An Interior Ministry official told Reuters the confrontation had started on Sunday when a group of Zwarah men hunting for game accidentally shot someone from Al-Jumail. They were briefly detained, angering people in Zwarah.
In another confrontation that has underlined Libya’s fragility, about 150 people were killed and 395 wounded in clashes over the past week between rival tribes in the southern city of Sabha.
The interim government has struggled to impose its authority on dozens of brigades comprising of former rebels who fought against Qaddafi’s forces and who now have become a law unto themselves.
Tribesmen, militias and residents of several regions have shown little hesitation in using force to settle disputes.