Abductions, killings make Libya’s chaos even worse
TUNIS - Libya’s lawlessness has taken a gruesome turn with rival militias, vying for power and control of the country’s oil wealth, torturing and killing people. Criminal gangs in areas with no oil wealth are grabbing the limited cash held by ordinary Libyans by kidnapping people for ransom.
The gangs often dump or hang the bodies of victims whose families cannot pay ransoms, adding another layer of misery to the life of Libyans suffering cash shortages and electricity cuts.
Tripoli, where a UN-brokered government arrived four months ago from exile to try to restore stability, is being called the “capital of kidnappers”. At least two kidnapping victims, including a 14-year-old girl whose family was unable to pay a 500,000 Libyan dinar — $350,000 — ransom, have been killed recently, according to police reports.
In the western area of Warshefana, abductions are so rife that a local satirist wrote on a website: “If Warshefana kidnap gangs deposit their cash money in the banks, Libya’s cash shortage could end in a wink.”
In one of the latest killings, a 65- year old man was tortured and murdered. Saied Shariha, from Kabou in Nafousa Mountain, was hanged after his family was unable to meet the $560,000 ransom.
The violence is forcing people to seek protection from local militias, strengthening the fighters’ influence, experts said.
Suspected militiamen tortured and killed 12 loyalists to former dictator Muammar Qaddafi after they were freed from a militia-run prison in Tripoli. The bodies, scattered in several areas of the capital, were found with bullet wounds to their heads and signs of torture, Libyan Justice Ministry spokesman Wessam al-Saghir said.
In Benghazi and other eastern parts of Libya, the battle is for control of oil and gas fields and ports from which those resources are exported.
The bodies of 14 civilians were found July 23rd in a landfill in Benghazi’s Lathi neighbourhood, which is under control of the forces of General Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the rump of Libya’s national army in the east. In Benghazi’s Abu Atni neighbourhood, a father and his three sons were found dead in a landfill.
Militias loyal to Haftar launched a crackdown on Islamist opponents in Benghazi after the Defend Benghazi Brigades said they planned to return to the city by force after they were swept out following 14 months of fighting.
UN Envoy to Libya Martin Kobler called the executions “a war crime”.