By Sami Zaptia.
London, 16 September 2019:
The internationally recognized Libyan government based in Tripoli and led by Faiez Serraj yesterday condemned ‘‘in the strongest terms’’ reports of the alleged mass assassination conducted by pro Hafter forces against their opponents in Tarhuna.
It said that it condemns the ‘‘series of heinous crimes’’ against the people of Tarhuna by ‘‘criminal gangs’’ who are supporters of Khalifa Hafter’s Karama (dignity) movement. It reported that there had been ‘‘tens’’ murdered across Tarhuna on Sunday. It likened the act to ‘‘mass genocide’’ and said this could only be carried out by those ‘‘devoid of religious or humane principles’’.
It said that it will pursue the perpetrators and called on the international community and UNSMIL to establish the facts and take appropriate action. The alleged assassination of Kani opponents comes on the back of reports over the weekend that two of the Kani brothers were killed in the fighting over Tripoli. It is not clear if the alleged mass assassinations are connected to or are a reaction to their deaths.
Tarhuna, 103 km and one and a quarter hour’s drive south east of Tripoli, is dominated by the Kani brigade militia that controls the city and supports Khalifa Hafter and his Libyan National Army (LNA).
The Kani brigade popularly referred to as the Kaniat in the plural, were commanded by the Kani brothers and were recognized by the Serraj government as the 7th Infantry brigade. They had taken part in inter-militia fighting in Tripoli in 2018 and 2019. The Serraj government has ceased to recognize them.
If Hafter loses the support of the Kani led militias in Tarhuna this could see Tarhuna either becoming neutral or joining the forces defending Tripoli, which would be a big loss for Hafter’s efforts to gain military control over Tripoli.