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LIBYA INVESTIGATING SOCCER RIOT IN WHICH 8 DIE, 39 ARE INJURED

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Libya has launched an investigation into a brawl among fans, players and police at a hotly contested soccer match that left eight people dead and 39 injured.

The casualty figures from the rioting in the capital, Tripoli, were released late Sunday on state-run Libyan television.The broadcast also carried footage of the fighting during Friday's game between rival Al-Ittihad and Al-Ahli teams, the latter sponsored by Al-Saadi Gadhafi, a son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

The government suspended both teams, and Libya's official JANA news agency said Justice Minister Mohammed Mahmoud Hijazi announced an investigation into the incident.

There is a history of soccer violence in the North African nation, where residents passionately support local teams. Soccer competition was suspended for at least two seasons in the early 1990s because of violence, long-time residents of Libya say.

Accounts of the rioting Friday vary, but most sources agree that players, fans and security forces were involved and that the casualties were the result of both gunfire and a stampede to flee the stadium.

Diplomats in Tripoli and Libyan opposition figures in Cairo said reports reaching them indicated that shooting began when Al-Saadi Gadhafi's guards opened fire to protect him from the rioters and that some in the crowd returned fire. They spoke on condition of anonymity.

Libyan television - broadcast in black and white as a sign of mourning - carried two sets of pictures of the incident, according to the British Broadcasting Corp.

One showed the referee being attacked by players. Reports from diplomats on Sunday had said the fans had been shouting that the referee was biased in favor of the Al-Ahli team.