The fighting in Kufra between the Tebu and the Zway tribe backed by brigadesmen flown to the southeastern town by the . . .[restrict]Defence Ministry appeared to have ended on late Tuesday afternoon after Tebu fighters surrendered. Despite having heavy weaponry they had been pinned down in parts of the town inhabited by Tebu residents. Libyan security sources say that among those captured were 30 members of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the rebel organisation that has been fighting in Sudan’s Darfur province.
The leader of the Tebu in Kufra, Isa Abdul Majid, was said by Tebu residents on Tuesday to have fled to the border area with Chad. The fighting had lasted for three days.
It had been reported on Tuesday that a total of 17 people had been killed in the fighting but Tebu resident Hussein Al-Lashi claimed today, Wednesday, that some 50 Tubu people alone had been killed, including women and children. There has been no independent verification of this. However, security sources said on Tuesday that the fighting had been intense.
The announcement that JEM fighters are among those captured would, if confirmed, back up claims that Isa was importing foreign troops into the area in order to dominate and control the area. Tebu account for less than five percent of the population in Kufra. The Zway tribe, who are also found elsewhere in eastern Libya, account for around 70 percent.
JEM members are largely from the Kobe people, a sub-tribe the Zaghawa people found in both Chad and Darfur. They are, however, related to the Tebu, who are also found in Chad as well as Niger and Algeria.
Last year, the Libyan Tebu were early supporters of the uprising to overthrow the Qaddafi dictatorship, although Isa Abdul Majid had originally been an ally of Qaddafi. JEM, on the other hand, were firmly linked to the regime having been funded and armed by Qaddafi to destabilise Sudan. During the uprising he then used them to try and attack the revolutionary forces in the east of the country. They raided Kufra more than once.
The well-armed members of the movement have been in disarray since its leader Khalil Ibrahim was killed in a Sudanese government raid in December. [/restrict]