By Gabriel Harrison.
Tunis, 17 August 2017:
After four days of heavy fighting in Ajilat, some 80 kilometres west of Tripoli, a ceasefire has been mediated by members of the local council together with elders from the Wershifana, Zintan and other nearby towns. The Presidency Council’s local government minister, Bidad Gansu, was also involved. Following consultations with the town’s House of Representatives member Abdelmonem Bilkur, mayor Fathi Al-Fahri and other officials, he announced the end to hostilities, expressing the view that it was definitive and final.
A committee which includes the members of the House of Representatives from Ajilat and Zawia as well as dignitaries from Ajilat has been set up to oversee treatment of the wounded and ensure the return of residents who fled the fighting.
It is reported that 11 people died in the clashes, including a woman and a 13-year-old teenager. Twenty-three others were wounded.
The fighting, in the town’s Jinan Atiya suburb, was between “revolutionary” pro-Islamist forces from Ajilat, backed up by militias from Zawia, Sabratha, Sorman and elsewhere who came to join them, and other Ajilat forces backed up young local volunteers intent on ridding the town of the militants. It started after two members of the town’s pro-Islamist Al-Shalfuh militia, named as Seraj Zayed and Mounir Al-Shibani, were murdered. The militia accused the Abu Subeh militia from the town centre of responsibility. The dispute quickly escalated. The Shalfuh were joined by militants from elsewhere including the Al-Amu brigade from Sabratha led by Ahmed Dabbashi and the Ahneish militia from Zawia.
The outside militias brought tanks as well as other heavy weaponry while Abu Subeh were were said to be strapped with more medium-sized armaments but had strong local support. Several buildings were badly damaged from mortar shelling before the fighting stopped.
The National Human Rights Commission has called the use of heavy weapons in a densely populated area as a war crime. It has demanded an independent investigation into the clashes.