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'Senseless crime': Nigerian migrant burned alive in Libyan capital

Three other migrants suffer burns, are treated in nearby hospital as alleged perpetrators are arrested
More than 100,000 migrants tried to cross the Mediterranean last year, with at least 1,200 dying in the attempt
More than 100,000 migrants tried to cross the Mediterranean last year, with at least 1,200 dying in attempt (AFP/File photo)

A Nigerian migrant worker was burned to death by three Libyans in the country's capital, UN and government officials said on Wednesday, in the latest of a string of abuses that migrants and refugees have faced in the conflict-ravaged country.

Three Libyans stormed a factory where African migrants were working in Tripoli's Tajoura neighbourhood on Tuesday, according to the Interior Ministry of the UN-backed government.

The group detained one of the workers, a Nigerian, poured gasoline on him and set him on fire. No motive for the crime was given, the ministry said.

Three other migrants suffered burns and were being treated in a nearby hospital. The alleged perpetrators, all in their 30s, were arrested and referred to prosecutors for investigation, it added.

"The young man was burned alive, in yet again another senseless crime against migrants in the country," tweeted Federico Soda, the chief in Libya for the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The killing underscores the perils that migrants face in Libya, which has emerged as a major transit point on the route to Europe for African and Arab migrants fleeing war and poverty.

In May, the family of a slain Libyan human trafficker attacked a group of migrants in the desert town of Mizdah, shooting and killing at least 30 migrants, most of whom were from Bangladesh, according to the UN migration agency.

In July, Libyan authorities shot dead three Sudanese migrants in the western coastal town of Khoms. The migrants were reportedly trying to escape after they were intercepted by the Libyan coastguard in the Mediterranean Sea and returned to shore.

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Many migrants pass through Libya on their way to Europe, departing from Tripoli's rocky coastline in inflatable dinghies.

More than 100,000 migrants tried to cross the Mediterranean last year, with at least 1,200 dying in the attempt, according to the IOM.

The Libyan coastguard, trained by the European Union to keep migrants from reaching European shores, intercepts boats at sea and returns them to Libya.

Rights groups say those efforts have left migrants at the mercy of brutal armed groups or confined in squalid and overcrowded detention centres that lack adequate food and water.

The EU agreed earlier this year to end an anti-migrant smuggler operation involving only surveillance aircraft and instead deploy military ships to concentrate on upholding a widely flouted UN arms embargo considered key to winding down Libya's relentless war.