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Friday, 29 September, 2000, 21:08 GMT 22:08 UK
Libyan unrest over immigration
Tripoli souk
Libya is now said to have a million African immigrants
By Caroline Hawley in Cairo

Further details are emerging of serious disturbances in Libya over the past two weeks involving Libyans and nationals from several African countries.

Some reports have said that dozens of people died, but no exact figures are available.

Since Colonel Gaddafi introduced his pan-African policy, growing numbers of immigrants from other African countries have moved to Libya.

Diplomat say the African immigrants, now thought to number about a million, have become the focus of social and economic resentment.

Neighbouring leaders

Earlier in the week, hundreds of frightened Nigerians protested outside their embassy in Tripoli, but many Africans are now reported to be trying to keep a low profile.


On Thursday the prime minister of Niger travelled to Libya to discuss the unrest, and on Tuesday the Sudanese President called on Colonel Gaddafi to contain the situation.

Libyan officials have played down the scale of the confrontations, but it is clear they have been extremely serious.

A diplomat in the capital, Tripoli, said there had been several violent clashes, with some Libyans among the dead and injured.

'Unprecedented' opposition

An apparently trivial dispute sparked one of the most serious reported confrontations involving Chadians and Sudanese in the town of Zawiyah west of Tripoli last week.

It is understood there have also been a number of clashes in Tripoli where disturbances of any kind are rare.

Security has now been tightened and diplomats say some African immigrants have been moved to military camps, possibly for their own protection.

One diplomat described this latest violence as unprecedented evidence of opposition to an official Libyan policy.

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See also:

27 Sep 00 | Africa
Libya tightens security
04 Apr 00 | Africa
Gaddafi steals the show
19 Jul 00 | Country profiles
Country profile: Libya
19 Jul 00 | Country profiles
Country profile: Sudan
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