The monkey, which belonged to a shopkeeper from the Gaddadfa tribe of Sabha city of Libya, pulled the hijab (headwear) off a schoolgirl from the Awlad Suleiman tribe who was passing by with a group of other girl friends, reported Reuters which interviews some locals.
Four days of fierce clashes between the rival tribal in the Islamic city of Sabha have left 16 people dead and more than 50 seriously injured. The violence was triggered by a pet monkey who snatched the hijab off of a tribal girl revealing her hair in full view of the public.
Awlad Suleiman fighters retaliated fiercely in response, killing three members of the Gaddadfa tribe along with the pet monkey who committed crime in a wave of violence involving heavy weapons and machine guns.
Once one of the richest countries in Northern Africa, Libya was plunged into chaos after a NATO-assisted uprising toppled strongman Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The country is now a major hub for human smugglers who transport refugees from across the region to Europe.
“There was an escalation on the second and third days with the use of tanks, mortars and other heavy weapons,” a local resident told Reuters over a phone call, adding “there are still sporadic clashes and life is completely shut down in the areas where there has been fighting because of the monkey.”
Sabha is located in a tribal part of southern Libya. Just like the rest of the country, it remains plagued by violence amongst rival factions. The region is also a major hub for arms smuggling, refugee trafficking, slavery and other illegal activities. The Gaddadfa tribe and the Awlad Suleiman tribe are the two most powerful factions in the Sabha region.
“There are women and children among the wounded and some foreigners from sub-Saharan African countries among those killed due to indiscriminate shelling,” said a local hospital staff. The local Sabha Medical Centre had received all the bodies of 16 people killed in the clashes, as well as some 50 seriously wounded.