Category: Uprising in Libya


National Transitional Council (NTC) fighters on Monday (October 3rd) took control of Moamer Kadhafi’s birthplace of Qasr Abu Hadi, AFP reported. Reclaiming the town some 20km from Sirte marked a symbolic victory in their battle to eradicate the last vestiges of the Kadhafi regime. The ousted Libyan leader was reportedly born in a nomad tent in Qasr Abu Hadi in 1942.

In other news Monday, NATO said that large numbers of portable surface-to-air missiles could be missing in Libya. “It is a matter of concern if stockpiles of weapons are not properly controlled and monitored,” AP quoted NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen as saying. His comments came in response to a report published by Germany’s Der Spiegel that some 10,000 SA-7 shoulder-launched missiles were missing from Libyan military depots.

Source: Magharebia.


by Michel Stors
Sunday, September 30, 2012

Embarrassed by attack on US Consulate, Libyans want militias gone but acknowledge their role

Muhammad Imran grimaced as he pushed his thumb firmly into his chin. The discomfort did not seem to bother him though. Standing in front of the charred remains of the US Consulate in Benghazi in which four Americans died on September 11th, he felt a sense of embarrassment. “The United States did so much for us during our revolution,” he said shaking his head. “It’s not right that we pay them back like this. It’s just not right.”

Throughout Benghazi, residents alternate between feelings of shock and shame. They mourn the death of American Ambassador Chris Stevens, an accessible diplomat who held court at local hotels. They are uneasy with all the negative attention their country is receiving after the international media showered it with praise during the 2011 revolution. But more than that, they seek answers about an attack that not even Washington can provide.

Hours after the consulate attacks, Libyans began grieving for Stevens. Many changed the lead picture on their Facebook pages to display American flags and photos of the slain ambassador. They posted messages expressing their outrage. “We want all the Americans to know that we cry with them,” Nusayba Himalik said on the corniche within ear shot of the Mediterranean Sea.

But Benghazi’s citizens did more than speak out. Last Friday, they organized a march to protest the killings and to condemn the militias that control the city and dole out arbitrary justice. Around 30,000 people poured into the streets carrying signs that read, “No to killing foreigners. No to groups outside the law.” Parents brought their children as the elderly slowly dragged their canes through the streets. “Libya belongs to us,” Ahmad Kikhia shouted as others clapped approvingly. “We won’t let the extremists control our country.”

Although the event’s organizers had merely planned a visible protest against the militias, the demonstrators had other ideas. Participants in the march descended on militias’ bases, torched buildings, chased fighters away and carted off their rifles. The main brigade the protesters targeted belonged to Ansar Al-Shari’a, the group believed to be behind the consulate attack. “These fanatics won’t scare us anymore!” screamed Imad Boughniyya as the flames engulfed the building behind him.

Benghazi is a small city with a tiny downtown area. Its 630,000 residents spend most of their time among their close knit families. Nightlife is limited to cruising down the city’s few boulevards and male-only parties on rural farms. A few colonnades and old domes are all that remains from the three decades during which Italian colonialists controlled the country. Benghazi is a sleepy town that no one here seems to mind.

The day after ‘Libya’s second revolution’ as people here call it, a leader of a large militia that was spared the violence of the night before took stock of events. “People want to blame us for a few rotten apples,” the man known as Abu Yahya, referring to rogue militias that have harassed Libyans, told The Media Line. Like many of the men who took up arms during the revolution, he was a civilian. “We fought to get rid of (Libyan leader) Mu’ammar Al-Qaddafi. We protected Libyans and now they want us gone.”

Disbanded is exactly what Jabir Hamid wants of the militias. He has grown tired of the nightly celebratory gun fire and the pickup trucks with anti-aircraft guns rumbling through the city. “The war is over. They should go home,” he says as he stops to buy a pack of cigarettes. “We didn’t fight a revolution against Qaddafi and his cronies to have new warlords.”

But Abu Yahya scoffs at the belief that the militias can disband overnight. He asks, “Who will provide the security against Qaddafi supporters? And who will arrest the guys behind the consulate attack?” It is a dilemma many here have sought to avoid confronting. The security services are too weak and disorganized and are largely unable to carry out their tasks. And they are neither in a position to arrest those suspected of planning the consulate attack nor able to provide American investigators the necessary security to investigate it. “We promised Libyans we would create a new country they could be proud of,” a member of the former interim government told The Media Line. “But we haven’t changed anything and have nothing to tell Libyans.”

And answers are what they want most. But with American investigators unable to work in the consulate to piece together clues and other intelligence officers pulled for lack of security, it will be a long time before Libyans learn who exactly was behind the lethal attack that took the life of a man they admired for his love of their country.

Copyright © 2012 The Media Line. All Rights Reserved.

By Hassan El-Fekih (AFP)
Sep 20, 2011

BENGHAZI, Libya — Libya’s new rulers on Wednesday declared victory in the key southern city of Sabha and conquered the oasis town of Waddan, but suffered heavy casualties in their offensive in Moamer Kadhafi’s hometown of Sirte.

Officials of the interim ruling National Transitional Council said there were only small pockets of resistance in Sabha, Libya’s largest desert city and home to a strategically vital military base.

The United States prepared to raise the Stars and Stripes Thursday over its Tripoli embassy, after President Barack Obama met Libya’s new leader in New York and pledged support for Libya as it consolidates freedom.

And NATO, whose air strikes have been instrumental in beating back Kadhafi forces, said Wednesday it was extending its air campaign for another 90 days.

“We are in complete control of the city of Sabha. Everybody, including (those who were) pro-Kadhafi, are now with the revolution,” said Abdelmajid Seif Ennasr, who represents the NTC in Sabha.

He admitted, however, that NTC fighters were still encountering some “resistance from some individuals here and there.”

“Sabha is totally under the control of the revolutionaries,” said Mohammed Wardugu, the Benghazi spokesman of the “Desert Shield Brigade” fighting in the region.

The battle for Sabha, a city of 100,000 people in an area dominated by Kadhafi’s clan, first broke out on June 12 after two days of anti-regime protests in the sprawling oasis.

Meanwhile, NTC commander Ahmed Zlitni said that fighters were planning for a three-pronged attack on Kadhafi’s hometown, Sirte.

“We are working on a strategy to go for a big push from three sides, the east, the west and the south. This is a war, the push could happen in a few days or anytime soon,” Zlitni said.

“We are still giving time for Sirte civilians to leave the city. There is resistance to our forces from Kadhafi’s forces from inside the city.”

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said meanwhile coalition warplanes would stay in the air as long as Libyan civilians are under threat.

“We are determined to continue our mission for as long as necessary, but ready to terminate the operation as soon as possible,” Rasmussen said.

At Bani Walid, a Kadhafi bastion southwest of Sirte, doctors said two people were killed and another four wounded.

Previously NTC official Abdullah Kenshil reported the death of an NTC fighter in Bani Walid and said new regime forces were preparing for a “decisive” tank-backed battle for the town in the next 48 hour.

Anti-Kadhafi authorities have admitted they lost three men at Sirte on Tuesday, taking the overall death toll since they moved on the city on September 15 to at least 45 NTC fighters.

Meanwhile, 16 patients, most in critical condition, were evacuated on a Qatari military plane to Malta as doctors said the region’s hospitals were overwhelmed.

NTC forces suspect Kadhafi enjoys a broad base of support in Sirte.

“The majority of residents are with Kadhafi,” said Zuber al-Gadir, spokesman of the Misrata military council, adding their persistent loyalty to the ousted leader was a legacy of his now defunct propaganda machine.

In Harawa, an AFP correspondent saw about nine NTC tanks moving towards Sirte’s eastern front, possibly in a bid to boost defenses in the face of steady artillery and machinegun fire from Kadhafi loyalists.

In the Al-Jufra oasis towns of Waddan and Hun, NATO said it took out Tuesday one military vehicle storage facility, four anti-aircraft guns and one armed vehicle.

On Wednesday witnesses said Kadhafi loyalists shelled Hun, killing and wounding dozens of people. Speaking by telephone to AFP in Tripoli, they said heavy shelling made it impossible to transport casualties out of the town, and that the power plant had been one of the targets.

In Benghazi, an NTC official announced “the total liberation of Hun.” He said Kadhafi loyalists had fled to the town of Sokna eight kilometers (five miles) away.

Kamal al-Hzifeh, the coordinator between the military command in Al-Jufra and the NTC, said there was fighting between Hun and Sokna and that Grad rockets slammed into Hun.

Earlier an NTC official in Benghazi, Mustafa Huni, said NTC forces had seized most of Waddan and were only facing pockets of resistance in other Al-Jufra towns, about 300 kilometres (186 miles) south of Sirte.

“Seventy percent of the Al-Jufra has been liberated. Waddan is freed, our forces entered the town following NATO bombing of Al-Hisha dam, 20 kilometers (13 miles) from the town,” Huni said.

Despite the setbacks, the fugitive Kadhafi told his remaining loyalists in Libya that the new regime is only temporary, in his latest comments aired on Syrian-based Arrai television.

“What is happening in Libya is a charade which can only take place thanks to the (NATO-led) air raids, which will not last forever,” said Kadhafi, who has been at large since NTC forces overran Tripoli on August 25.

As Libya’s new rulers were feted in New York, interim prime minister Mahmud Jibril said the country’s first formal government since Kadhafi’s ouster would be announced within seven to 10 days.

His statement came after a special summit at which Obama met NTC chief Mustafa Abdel Jalil and announced the US embassy would be reopening and the ambassador, Gene Cretz, returning for Thursday’s flag-raising ceremony.

Copyright © 2012 AFP. All rights reserved.

Tue Sep 6, 2011

Libyan fighters and tribal leaders in the besieged town of Bani Walid agree to a peaceful takeover of the town, a report says.

Reports coming out of Libya indicate that tribal elders in the town of Bin Walid have been persuading ex-regime forces to end the fighting amid fresh signs of retreat by the Gaddafi loyalists.

However, other reports suggest more resistance from pro-Gaddafi men as Gaddafi regime spokesman Moussa Ibrahim has claimed that the fugitive leader will continue fighting.

Gaddafi is “in excellent health, planning and organizing for the defense of Libya,” the Associated Press quoted Ibrahim as telling Syrian television on Tuesday.

“We are fighting and resisting for the sake of Libya and all Arabs,” Ibrahim noted. “We are still strong and capable of turning the tables on NATO,” he went on to say.

This is while thousands of Libyan fighters have closed in on the besieged town, waiting for orders from their commanders to launch fresh assaults on Gaddafi’s last stronghold.

The fighters have built a field hospital near Bani Walid and installed 10 volunteer doctors prepared to treat injured fighters in the event of a battle with forces still loyal to the former regime in the town.

Revolutionary forces control most of the oil-rich North African nation, except for some central and southern areas, including Bani Walid and Gaddafi’s birthplace of Sirt.

Source: PressTV.

By Jasper Fakkert
September 4, 2011

The mercenaries were the most feared and hated men in Libya. Mainly flown in from Chad and Sudan, former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has used them against his own people since February to fight for his crumbling regime.

In the recent battle for Tripoli, where Libya’s rebel army laid siege on the capital, mercenaries were notably deployed as snipers to prevent the rebels from taking full control over parts of the city.

But with Libyan rebels now controlling most parts of the country, including Tripoli, the anger and bloodshed at the hands of the mercenaries has led to a witch hunt for dark African men. Amidst this, rebel fighters are not only to target those who were paid to kill, but also migrant workers and other immigrants who have lived in Libya for decades.

In a report published on Sunday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC), which is now in control of the country, to “stop the arbitrary arrests and abuse of African migrant workers and black Libyans assumed to be mercenaries.”

According to the human rights organization many black Africans are arrested solely because of their dark skin color. “It’s a dangerous time to be dark-skinned in Tripoli,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at HRW, in a press release.

“The NTC has legitimate concerns about unlawful mercenaries and violent activity, but it can’t simply arrest dark-skinned men just in case they think they might be mercenaries,” she said.

Although HRW is condemning the broad crackdown on dark African men, it has confirmed evidence that the Gadhafi regime was recruiting mercenaries from Chad and Sudan. It also discovered a large base that has been used by hundreds of African mercenaries since 2011.

Over the past week hundreds of dark African men, including migrant workers, have been arrested by the rebel forces that are mainly young, armed Libyan men.

The dark Africans are being held in makeshift detention facilities across Tripoli, including a soccer field, according to HRW.

One of them in the detention center, a 60-year-old man from Chad named Othman, was allowed by the rebel security forces to talk to a HRW researcher. He said close to 200 men were being held at the soccer field.

Othman himself said he had been in Libya for 30 years, and had become a Libyan citizen in 1991.

Before the start of a popular uprising in Libya in February this year, there were an estimated 1 million to 2 million African migrant workers in the country. Many of them fled the country after the violence erupted when rebel forces in Eastern Libya took up arms against Gadhafi’s regime.

“African migrants have worked in Libya for many years, often carrying out the most unpleasant jobs, and this is no way to treat those who stayed put during the uprising,” said Whitson.

The reprisal arrests of African men have caused migrant workers to seek safety. The men stay in private homes in large groups, allowing only women to go out to buy food and water.

The HRW researcher visited one such house where 30 Nigerian migrant workers were staying. In one instant last week, armed Libyan men had come into the home searching for weapons. Unable to find anything, they instead took their mobile phones, and money worth the equivalent of $252.

Having overthrown Gadhafi’s rule, and now ruling most parts of the country, Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) is faced with the daunting task of rebuilding the country—including putting judicial processes in place.

Keen to avoid losing its legitimacy, leaders of the NTC have on different occasions urged their fighters not to resort to violence in revenge.

According to HRW, however, the judicial system still falls short. “A prosecutor’s office has apparently assumed control of the Maftuah prison and begun investigations. However to Human Rights Watch’s knowledge no detainees in Tripoli have been brought before a judge to review the legality of their detention,” it states.

Source: The Epoch Times.

Mon Sep 5, 2011

Spokesman for Libyan revolutionaries has announced the failure of negotiations aimed at the peaceful surrender of forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi in the town of Bani Walid.

Talks were held on Sunday outside one of Gaddafi’s last strongholds of Bani Walid, southeast of the capital Tripoli, AFP reported.

“They (Gaddafi’s negotiating team) demanded that the revolutionaries enter Bani Walid without their weapons,” said Abdullah Kenshil, a Bani Walid native and the chief negotiator for the Transitional National Council (TNC).

Libyan fighters say loyalists of Gaddafi in his bastion are a small but heavily armed minority group that stokes fear to keep other people in the town from surrendering.

Negotiations with tribal leaders in the besieged town of Bani Walid started several days ago with the aim of capturing the town without bloodshed.

Revolutionary forces say they are now waiting for a green light from their leadership to launch a final attack on the town.

Kenshil said that Gaddafi forces in Bani Walid, numbering between 30 and 50 men “well-armed, with machine-guns, rocket-launchers and snipers,” had been assured they would be treated well if they surrendered.

On Saturday, revolutionaries, having moved within 15 to 20 kilometers of Bani Walid, set a deadline of 0800 GMT Sunday for pro-Gaddafi forces to give up.

The interim leadership has announced a temporary truce until September 10 for forces in Bani Walid as well as in Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirt to lay down their arms.

Source: PressTV.

Mon Aug 29, 2011

Over 10,000 out of an estimated 50,000 plus political prisoners held in fugitive Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi’s jails have been freed by fighters since the collapse of the capital Tripoli, an official says.

Ahmed Omar Bani, spokesman for the revolutionary forces, expressed deep concerns about the remaining tens of thousands the whereabouts of whom is not known yet, AFP reported.

“Many people in Tripoli are now discovering mass graves around former detention centers and Abu Salim prison,” said Bani.

The spokesperson also urged people to come forward with any information on prisoners, “or they will be considered complicit in these crimes.”

Abu Salim prison is a top security prison in the Libyan capital, which has often been described as “notorious.”

Source: PressTV.

By Jack Phillips
August 28, 2011

Mass graves containing dozens of suspected rebel bodies was recently discovered, with evidence that forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi killed them, said Human Rights Watch.

Some of the bodies were dumped in the Tripoli neighborhood of Gargur sometime around August 21, said the rights group, who published its findings on Sunday in a report. A witness who survived the mass killing said that Libyan government forces shot prisoners at a building belonging to the Internal Security Service.

The mass grave in Gargur is the latest discovered in recent days that Gadhafi forces are also suspected to be responsible for, the rights group said. On Friday, 18 bodies were discovered near the Internal Security building in a dry riverbed. Some of those killed may have been doctors and nurses, and had their hands tied behind their backs.

Another two bodies were found in the Internal Security building on August 26.

Another 29 bodies were found in a medical clinic outside of Gadhafi’s compound, Bab al-Aziziya. Some appeared to have been executed while they were lying in hospital beds.

“Torture was rife in Gadhafi’s prisons but to execute detainees days before they would have been freed is a sickening low in the government’s behavior,” stated Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

Whitson said there is strong evidence suggesting “Gadhafi government forces went on a spate of arbitrary killing as Tripoli was falling.”

Osama Hadi Mansur Al-Swayi, one of the survivors of the massacre at the Internal Security building, said that as the rebels came into Tripoli on Aug. 19, the prisoners started celebrating.

“We were so happy, and we knew we would be released soon,” he recounted. But that joy soon turned to terror. Snipers that were upstairs came down and started shooting. Al-Swayi along with other prisoners were told to lie on the ground. Then he heard one of the guards loyal to Gadhafi give the order to “just finish them off.”

“In one instant, they finished off all the people with me,” he said.

Another witness, Juma’ Al-Murayd, told Human Rights Watch that on August 23 he had seen Gadhafi’s men beat up then kill three civilians at a checkpoint near his home. “One of them was just driving his car, unarmed,” the witness said.

“These incidents, which may represent only a fraction of the total, raise grave questions about the conduct of Gadhafi forces in the past few days, and whether it was systematic or planned,” said Whitson.

“If these incidents are proven to be extra judicial killings they are serious war crimes and those responsible should be brought to justice,” he added.

Source: The Epoch Times.