By Jamie Prentis.
Tunis, 30 November 2017:
An armed group took over Sebha airport today as well as the main army base and a number of checkpoints, although no shots were fired as police protecting them withdrew.
A top-level source in Sebha said the group came with 12 cars, guns and ammunition.
“They said to me ‘we have people we want to work in security in the airport’. I said they had to contact the police. If they are not police we will not accept them,” he told the Libya Herald.
“We withdrew because we don’t want people to destroy the airport. This is a civil airport. We will make a solution with them, hopefully peaceful,” he added.
Another source said the group was the Sukour Al-Sahra (“Desert Eagles”) Brigade, the Tebu militia led by Barka Shedemi, which has been based in Qatrun and which has been mounting patrols on the southern borders. Previously Shedemi has been understood to have 200 vehicles at his disposal.
Shedemi recently announced he was blockading the southern border in an effort to halt migrant trafficking.
Any move into Sebha by Shedemi could well result in renewed violence in a town that in the past three years has seen clashes between Tebus and Tuaregs, between Tebus and the Awlad Suleiman tribe and between the Awlad Suleiman and the Qaddadfa tribe. Shedemi is said to have a longstanding hatred of the Qaddadfa.