Eyewitnesses in the south of Merzek region confirmed that shooters affiliated to the forces of retired Major General Khalifa Haftar, who took control of the area last Friday, have attacked and looted the properties of civilians who oppose their presence in the area.
One of the witnesses told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that "more than 100 houses in Al-Desa neighbourhood and 17 others in Sokra were burned and looted, in addition to the arrest of 50 people at least until Sunday morning."
The Haftar forces took control of Merzek area on Friday night after days of clashes with the South Protection Force, mostly composed of armed elements from the Toubou tribes, which constitute the demographic majority of the Merzek basin areas.
The locals of the Merzek basin have called earlier on the international community to intervene to protect them from what they called the "ethnic cleansing" carried out by Haftar forces. On the other hand, the general's army has confirmed that its war in the south is designated to expel the Chadian opposition militants in the areas of the Merzek basin.
Activists posted several videos on social media showing armed elements, in vehicles, breaking in households and looking for oppositionists, who expressed their discontent with Haftar's military intervention, as vast plumes of smoke were seen rising from a neighbourhood in the area.
The Tobruk Parliament issued a statement, condemning the attack which targeted the household of the MP on Merzek area, Mohamed Adam, on Saturday, by shooters affiliated to the Haftar forces. Thus, the statement included an implicit objection to the attacks carried out in the region in general.
Aman Organization against Discrimination, a Libyan NGO, called on the United Nations to intervene to protect civilians and take responsibility for the aggression exerted against the Toubou population in the southern regions.
The NGO stressed the need to stop the attacks in the Merezk region and to prioritise dialogue and wisdom, considering the situation of the area as extremely dangerous and requires urgent international intervention to evacuate the wounded and save the lives of civilians.
The Aman Organization against Discrimination expressed concerns about the situation and warned that "the escalation of hate speech, racism, and the rhetoric of revenge in Merzek region will jeopardise stability in the region and undermine efforts to achieve reconciliation and peace in Libya."
During a meeting on Saturday evening with a delegation from Merzek region, the UN envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salame, had promised to consecrate the resources of the mission to protect civilians and rescue the wounded, in addition to providing necessary medical and food supplies.