Weekly Security Report by SNE 09 September 2014

Tripoli remains reasonably calm since the city was overrun by the Islamist-leaning Libya Dawn coalition, although intense clashes have continued to the south and west of Tripoli. At least twelve people were killed during clashes between 06 – 07 September. Warsehfanan tribal elders have warned that thousands of civilians are facing a humanitarian crisis due to the ongoing blockade. Meanwhile, Operation Dignity forces and militias from the western town of Zintan have continued to claim that military preparations are underway for an offensive to retake Tripoli from the Libya Dawn militias.

The commander of Operation Dignity’s Air Force stated that ground troops would receive air support for the offensive. This has renewed speculation that foreign forces, namely the UAE or Egypt, may also be involved in the possible anticipated offensive, as air strikes in Tripoli in August are widely believed to have been carried out by UAE aircraft and pilots, launched from military bases in Egypt.

Mitiga Airport in eastern Tripoli was shut down for several hours on 05 September, after all airport staff went on strike in response to an attack on a worker at a check-in desk. Local sources claimed that a passenger was refused a boarding pass by a member of staff, leading armed militiamen, ostensibly there to provide security at the airport, to attack the worker. It is believed that the militiamen in question knew the passenger who was refused access to the flight, although this is not confirmed. All outbound flights from Mitiga were suspended until the evening on 05 September 2014

Members of Omar Al-Hassi’s cabinet were sworn in yesterday by Salah Makhzoum, the second deputy president of the GNC. It means that Libya now effectively has two governments, one in Tripoli and another in the east (Tobruk), although it is not clear whether the Hassi’s government can wield any effective power.

Clashes intensified once more on 06 September, as Islamist militias under the umbrella Benghazi Shura Council grouping renewed efforts to wrest control of Benina International Airport (BEN) from Operation Dignity forces. At least three people were killed during clashes in the Benina area, which lies to the east of Benghazi, but local sources reported that Operation Dignity forces had also launched numerous airstrikes on suspected Islamist camps in the southern districts of Hawari and Sidi Faraj. Ansar al Sharia and its allies have been attempting to advance on the airport for several weeks with limited success, but Operation Dignity forces have likewise been unable to gain any ground against the Islamist forces.

The commander of the Benghazi-based Omar Mukhatr Brigade, Ziyad Belaam, was seriously wounded in an assassination bid last night in the city’s Salmani district. He is said have been hit more than once and was taken to the Benghazi Medical Centre

It is now also becoming clear that today’s government demand for the departure of the Sudanese military attaché follows the discovery weapons and ammunition on board a Sudanese military transport, two days ago when it landed in Kufra to refuel.

It has been reported that non Libyan travellers to Libya will be required to pay an ‘Entry to Libya’ fee, in addition there are early reports that non Libyan travellers will be required to provide an authorisation letter issued by their respective native government’s prior to travel. This information was released on the 7th September and is to still be authenticated.

Due to the current ongoing unstable situation within Tripoli, SNE advises that all non-essential expat client personnel and their dependants should consider relocating outside of the country where possible.

Only business essential movements should take place within Tripoli city limits and no movement should be attempted in dark hours or near the area of Tripoli International Airport and surroundings areas which are affected by the ongoing militia fighting.

SNE is advising NO travel should be made to Benghazi until the current situation shows signs of stability.

The British FCO and US State Department are still advising against No travel to Libya and have advised all their citizens to leave the country at the first opportunity available.

SNE remains operational on the ground in Tripoli with our British Country Management Team and are able to support any remaining clients as required, or provide up to date accurate information and analysis on the ever changing situation to those clients who are currently out of country monitoring the situation with an aim to redeploying when the security situation allows.

Before considering travel to Libya, an itinerary specific pre-travel risk assessment including mitigation measures are recommended. In-country personnel should be confident in their evacuation procedures and crisis management plans and in light of the current situation these should be checked and updated where necessary.

 

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