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An outbreak of fighting in south of the Libyan capital has stopped after local elders agreed to a ceasefire. The conflict, a flare-up of an old rivalry between the provincial town of Zintan and the neighbouring El-Mashasha tribe, left at least four people dead, and underlined the tension and insecurity in Libya after the overthrow of leader Muammar Gaddafi.
There is little sign of fighting now in Wamis. But earlier, locals said rocket or artillery fire had been directed on their town from Zintan. A local leader said a committee of elders the day before had agreed to a ceasefire and the release of prisoners by both sides.
|Smoke rises from the site of a rocket attack in Wamis, where members of the|
El-Mashasha tribe are based, about 190 km (120 miles) from Tripoli, December
12, 2011. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny
Ibrahim Masood, a local leader, said, "Our first aim is Libya and to stop the killing of Libyans and the problem is not tribal but it’s revenge.”
Fighters from Zintan played a vital role in forcing Gaddafi’s forces out of Tripoli. The head of Zintan’s town council said the clash with the El-Mashasha tribe was a "misunderstanding". One member of the tribe recalled his experience, after being released from detention in Zintan.
Nasir Bilgasim, a released prisoner in Zintan, said, "The fighters from Zintan stopped my car and then examined my identity papers. They arrested me and gathered around me and started to beat me with their rifle butts."
Two months after Gaddafi was captured and killed, Libya has become a cauldron of competing regional, tribal and other groups which often clash violently with each other. The still fragile central government exerts little control over the groups.