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Sabratha fighting leaves at least three dead

At least three men have been killed and several injured, some severely, in further fighting today in Sabratha between an Islamist militia and a local anti-people smuggling force.

The shooting in the town centre  which broke out early this morning, is understood to have involved members of Ahmed Dabbashi’s Al-Amu militia. Dabbashi is a member of a prominent local family with a record of Islamist support. On the other side was the 48th Brigade of the town’s  “Operations Room Fighting IS” under its commander Omar Abdul Jalil. The brigade was formed to crack down on local people-smuggling gangs.

Local elders have spent the day seeking to broker a ceasefire. The cause of the conflict is unclear. However, there has been speculation that it may have been triggered by a dispute over funds that Italy is paying to stop the flow of illegal migrants by having them intercepted and held in Libyan detention centres.  A week ago Italian ambassador Giuseppe Perrone visited the town to congratulate the mayor Hassen Dhawadi on his clamp-down on the people-traffickers.

Another source has said that ranged against the Al-Amu militia have been pro-Libyan National Army (LNA) fighters. In July   force of some 500 LNA supporters from the Watiya airbase and surrounding towns came into Sabratha and forced the Islamists out of the town.

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