For the past month, Libya has been in the grip of some of the worst violence since the 17 February 2011 revolution which led to the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi. There have been many civilian casualties and those working in the media have not been spared.
Since July 13, violent armed clashes have been taking place in Tripoli between the rival Zintan and Misrata militias and their allies for control of the capital’s international airport, among other things.
Fierce fighting has been taking place in and around the city of Benghazi between the forces of General Khalifa Haftar and armed Islamist militias such as Ansar Al-Shari’a. On 30 July, Ansar Al-Shari’a managed to capture the base camp of a Haftar-allied special forces unit, whose members were forced to withdraw into the Jebal Akhdar mountains in the east of the country.
More than 200 people have been killed and 1,000 wounded since the latest round of violence began, according to health ministry figures. Most of the casualties were caused by the shelling of civilian areas. Amnesty International has categorized these indiscriminate shelling attacks as war crimes.
Those working in the media have not been spared in the latest fighting. Three days ago, five staff members of the satellite station Barqa TV, based in Ajdabiya, were abducted on their way back from covering the opening ceremony of the new Libyan parliament. The station’s manager, Faraj Al-Moghrabi, who was also present, said the station’s three cars, carrying the eight members of the crew, were stopped at a checkpoint near the town of Derna, known to be the stronghold of Ansar Al-Shari’a, by militiamen who indicated they were members of the national army under Haftar’s command. According to Al-Moghrabi, however, the militiamen’s clothes and accent rather implied that they were from the opposing camp.