Weekly Security Report by SNE 28 October 2014

The situation in Tripoli is still stable with a sustained period of calm and peace now under the Libya Dawn / Misrata Militia forces group, however the threat of an offensive by the Zintani led pro HoR forces still remain a threat even though SNE operatives on the ground in Tripoli are seeing little movement towards this and don’t deem them able to launch such an offensive without support from General Hifter or outside forces.

Fighting in the western Nafusa Mountains region, particularly in and around the town of Kikla, between 25 and 26 October left at least seventeen people wounded. It has also been claimed by pro-government forces that a runway at Zintan Airport was targeted by a fighter jet which took off from the largely pro-Libya Dawn city of Misrata. Very little damage and no casualties were caused by the attack, but the incident has raised concerns regarding the potential air capabilities of Islamist-led forces.

Fighting has continued throughout the weekend in Benghazi with reports suggesting that pro-government forces have advanced towards Derna. In Benghazi, sources have indicated that Libyan Army units have continued to make progress against Benghazi Shura Council forces, although it has been claimed that a newly-formed group known as “Libya Dawn 2” has pledged to “liberate” Benghazi from pro-government forces.

The hard-line Islamist Council of Islamic Youth in Derna (CIYD) has furthered its efforts to consolidate control over the restive eastern city, while pro-government sources have claimed that Libyan Army forces are moving towards the town. It has also been suggested that the Egyptian Government will launch attacks against “terrorist camps” in eastern Libya, in retaliation for a suicide bombing in southern Sinai on 24 October 2014.

Libya’s armed forces announced on Friday that they have regained control of residential areas of the eastern city of Benghazi, where a coalition of armed militias have held sway for several months. Two army units, the 21st storm trooper brigade and 204 tanks division, advanced on Thursday towards Libya’s second city from the town of al-Bayda, some 200 kilometers east of Benghazi.

Mohammed Al-Zahawi, leader of Libya’s Ansar al-Sharia, is “almost certainly” dead sources told the Libyan Herald newspaper that they believed the militant leader had died in Turkey last Thursday from wounds sustained in an earlier airstrike in Libya's second city Benghazi, which is partially controlled by the group.

The battle for Benghazi has further intensified, as sources in the city claim that almost 150 people have been killed during the past week of fighting, since a new offensive was launched by pro-government forces on Islamist militias.

Meanwhile, activists in Tripoli have called for an “armed rebellion” against the Libya Dawn militia coalition in the capital on 15 November. The call follows claims by Prime Minister Abdullah al Thinni that pro-government military forces are poised to enter the city and dislodge the Islamist-led coalition. Indeed, inci-dents of violence appear to be accelerating in Tripoli, as local sources reported a spate of abductions on 22 October including the kidnapping of a local Red Crescent Secretary.

The Egyptian embassy was reportedly ransacked and occupied by suspected Libya Dawn militiamen on 22 October and attempted to do the same the following day, leading to clashes between militiamen and local residents. Clashes have been ongoing elsewhere in western Libya despite claims by pro-government militias that they had consolidated control over most of the region.

The prospects for negotiations between rival parties in Libya are unclear, as there has been no news regard-ing either the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) sponsored talks or those ostensibly being coordinated by Algeria. As violence has intensified in both eastern and western Libya, optimism for a peaceful solution has diminished of late.

Fighting has also continued sporadically in the southern town of Obari, as Tuareg tribesmen have reportedly refused a ceasefire request by the opposing Tebu tribe. Two men were killed in the extremist-dominated city of Derna on 23 October after being kidnapped ostensibly to be used as leverage in a prisoner exchange, when negotiations failed the victims were shot by their captors.

While fighting has been ongoing in the western Nafusa Mountain regions since Zintani-led militias launched a new offensive against the neighbouring pro-Libya Dawn town of Kikla on 11 October unconfirmed reports indicate that the battling sides may be in a stalemate

Due to the current ongoing unstable situation within Tripoli, SNE that only business essential travel and movements should take place within Tripoli city limits and no movement should be attempted in the hours of darkness or near the area of Tripoli International Airport and surroundings areas which have been affected by the 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.

SNE remains operational on the ground in Tripoli with our British Country Management Team and are able to support any of our existing or other 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 re-deploying 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 with the appropriate level of support in country to activate the plans when required.

 

 

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