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Libyan Government Sends Troops to Quell Fighting in West of Country,
17/06/2012 14:47:00
Following days of clashes between rival militias that have left at least 16 people dead since Monday, Libya's interim government has called for an end to the violence, deployed troops in the west of the country, particularly in the mountainous towns of Zintan, Mizdah and Shegayga, and declared the area, which is some 150 kilometres from the capital, Tripoli, as a "military zone".

The violence, mainly between fighters from Zintan, backed by another tribe known as the Guntrara from the city of Mizdah, and armed members of the Mashashya tribe based in the town of Shegayga is of concern to the authorities as it comes just weeks before Libya is due to hold the first free elections for a national assembly for over four decades.

In a statement, besides calling for an immediate ceasefire by all parties and the provision of humanitarian aid, officials said the army had been authorised to use all necessary force to protect civilians in the mountainous area.

The ruling National Transitional Council (NTC), which took power last year, has been struggling to maintain security and stability in a country awash with weapons left over from the conflict last year.

The army's Col Hamed Zwei has been reported telling Reuters: "The army is going there now to impose a ceasefire and protect civilians,"

The latest clash was reportedly triggered by the death of a man from Zintan after he was stopped at a checkpoint, which Zintan militias have blamed on the Mashashya tribe.

Besides those killed, at least 89 others have been wounded.

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