Tripoli, 2 July:
The security pendulum in Kufra swung back in the direction of normality today after contingents of the national army . . .[restrict]moved into key positions. They were accompanied by members of the Libya Shield brigade. Shops have reopened and “life is returning to normal” according to local journalist Hassan Adrees. The national army was deployed to the southeastern oasis town a week ago after the Shield brigade, sent in late February, failed to pacify it.
On Saturday there was still heavy shelling across town, as a result of which three people were reported to have died and dozens wounded. Two of the dead were said to be members of the Shield brigade.
Adrees said that the latest three weeks of fighting in the town between government forces and Tebu fighters had claimed the lives of 18 people, Shield brigadesmen as well as Arab civilians — a figure lower than that reported earlier. At the end of last week Abdullah Zway, a representative of the majority Zway community in Kufra, said that 14 of his people had been killed in just two days. The commander of the Shield forces, Wissam Ben Hamid, said some 30 people had been killed last week alone.
However, Adrees said that his figures did not include Tebu casualties. During the three week’s of fighting, Tebu spokesmen had claimed that at least 56 of their people have been killed, most recently two on Saturday during shelling of the town’s Tebu districts of Qaderfi and Qarah Tebu.
Meanwhile, both the Tebus and the Zway community are now threating to take non-military action in pursuit of their rivalry.
The Tebu threaten to boycott this weekend’s national election unless government forces, especially the Shield brigade, are withdrawn. Tebu leader Essa Abdul Majid was reported saying that Tebus would not vote if tanks, anti-aircraft missiles and snipers remain in the town.
For their part, members of the Zway tribe have threatened to prevent oil being pumped from nearby oilfields if the NTC and government do not intervene, put an immediate end to the conflict and ensure there is reconciliation in the town.
However, the Tebu threat may prove academic. According to Tebu spokesman Younis Essa, the High National Election Commission has barred over a thousand Tebus in Kufra from voting in the elections for a variety of reasons — invalid national IDs, fraudulent documents, multiple registrations and lack of Libya citizenship. It represents a significant portion of the local electorate.