Conflict

15 Egyptians freed from militia control in Libya

North Africa

Police in the district of Marj, located east of Benghazi in Libya, free 15 Egyptians who had been captured by a militia group known for taking and ransoming hostages.

The Marj and Coastal branches of the Criminal Investigation Service, in cooperation with local police forces in the district of Marj launched a major operation to free 15 Egyptians who were arrested and kidnapped by armed militias in northeastern Libya. According to one of the prisoners who escaped the militias, the treatment of prisoners was described as extremely harsh and brutal.

I came to Libya and then this gang kidnapped me and put me in a storehouse. We did not eat or drink and they beat us because we wanted to use the bathroom. They tortured us a lot until the arrival of the police that saved us from them,” said one of the prisoners who was recently freed by the Libyan forces.

The militants initially demanded a very high ransom in order to ensure the release of the prisoners, who, according to reports, suffered greatly at the hands of the militants. However, military intelligence allowed police to locate the prisoners and conduct the operation that led to their freedom.

Kidnappings are on the rise in Libya, with hundreds who have disappeared since the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi’s regime in 2011. Human rights groups believe that the number of those kidnapped has soared since 2014. That year the economy collapsed as the country spiralled into civil war, fueling a business of kidnapping for ransom.

Meanwhile, authorities are at a loss when it comes to finding a long-term solution to this problem. The competing governments are too weak to enforce rule of law in Libya. This allows marauding armed groups to commit senseless acts of violence, crimes and kidnappings. The situation has made parts of Libya seem near apocalyptic.

However, as shown by this recent operation by Libyan forces in Marj, police and security services are stepping up their effort to control the activities and crimes of armed groups in the country.