Human Rights

Libya: Emotional scenes as abductees return to their homes in Tawiwi

North Africa

After escaping from their Chadian captors and walking for nine days until they reached help, Ali and Khaled Salem have finally returned home.

Joy and happiness have spread in the town of Tawiwi in Libya’s southwestern Um al-Aranib area after two kidnapped men were able to escape from their captors. The two men, Ali and Khaled Salem, were held by Chadian militias for 20 days along the Libya-Chad border after being kidnapped on the highway linking their area, Um al-Aranib, to the city of Qatron.

“Nine days ago, the two kidnapped men managed to escape and walked for almost nine days until they reached the highway where they were rescued by a member of the Tabu tribe who brought them to the area of Hamira,” said Ali Abdullatif, a cousin of the two kidnapped men.

Since the start of the Libyan conflict in 2011, the rise of militias, both Libyan and foreign, have contributed towards fluctuating levels of instability, with power vacuums emerging in many parts of Libya, especially in the country’s southern border. This has allowed many Chadian militias to infiltrate the porous border and kidnap Libyans.

According to Ali and Khaled’s family, the militias demanded a one-million-dollar ransom for their release. However, the two men were luckily able to escape unharmed.

This is not the first incident in which Chadian militias have kidnapped Libyans.

In December 2018, militias attacked a military camp belonging to forces loyal to the Haftar-led Libyan National Army (LNA). During this attack, the Chadian militias were able to kidnap over 22 prisoners, both military and civilian. After receiving intelligence on their location, the LNA launched an operation to liberate the prisoners in January 2019.

In order to continue to pursue these militias, the LNA launched a full-scale operation on the city of Sabha, the biggest city in southern Libya. While some speculate that this operation was launched to gain control of the Sharara Oilfield, the LNA spokesperson stressed that these operations are an attempt to secure the country’s southern borders in order to protect civilians.

While Libya’s political situation remains unclear following the Tripoli clashes earlier this year and the political deadlock between the Libyan leaders, citizens are happy with the stabilisation of the security situation in many of Libya’s cities.