ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – At least three people have been killed and seven more were wounded in a firefight that broke out between two tribes in Basra, late Monday.
According to security forces, the exchange of fire occurred between the tribes of Albu Hamdan and al-Batut in the area of "Karma Ali," north of Basra. The reasons behind the incident are, as of yet, unknown.
A security source told Kurdistan 24 there had been a total of three deaths and seven injuries "from both sides of the conflict."
Another security source, however, claimed two of the victims were innocent bystanders who were killed on suspicion of belonging to the either of the rival clans.
One source explained that local security forces had arrested a person suspected of instigating the violence.
The actors behind the incident are "more than one" but, "unfortunately, only one was arrested," said Jabbar al-Saadi, chairman of the security committee of the Basra provincial council, during an interview with al-Marbad radio.
The conflict broke out despite a judicial decision that considers such clashes to amount to "terrorist acts." Perpetrators can, therefore, be prosecuted under Iraq's anti-terrorism law.
Sources stated local authorities had asked security forces to carry out "preemptive operations" against similar conflicts between tribes before they escalate, as well as punish those engaging in the violence.
"Security forces must distinguish between innocent people and those who provoke tribal conflict," Saadi said.
It is not easy for Iraq's security forces to intervene in clan disputes. On multiple occasions, Iraqi authorities have failed to disarm tribes who regularly resort to such measures to resolve disagreements when their form of diplomacy fails.
Editing by Nadia Riva