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UN hears of human rights violations amid Libya fighting

The UN warned of instances of torture and unlawful detention by Libyan militia men
Libyans demonstrate against eastern Libya's strongman Khalifa Haftar and in support of the Islamist-led Benghazi Defence Brigades (AFP)
By Reuters

Fighting in Libya's oil coastline region this month has been marked by human rights violations while attacks are likely to worsen in coming days, UN human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said on Tuesday.

"Credible reports suggest that unlawful killings, including summary executions, hostage-taking, arbitrary detentions, torture, as well as widespread raids of civilian homes have been occurring, particularly in the towns of Ajdabiya, Benghazi, Brega and Beishir," she told a regular UN briefing in Geneva.

The violence has flared since March 3 when the Benghazi Defence Brigade (BDB) attacked the "oil crescent" area, between the ports of Ras Lanuf and Brega, while the Libyan National Army responded with air strikes.

The UN received allegations of the summary execution of two LNA fighters in the Ras Lanuf medical centre on March 3, followed by LNA raids on homes of BDB supporters.

The allegations were credible and the victims were reportedly shot in the head, Shamdasani said.

LNA fighters detained more than 100 men and boys as young as 13 during the subsequent raids, as well as stealing money and beating and insulting residents, according to the latest information provided to the UN.

"We have received reports that those detained have been subjected to torture and threats," Shamdasani said, adding many families have no information on the whereabouts of their male relatives, who are being held incommunicado.

Shamdasani said the UN was deeply alarmed that LNA fighting might escalate, leading to further human rights abuses against civilians.

The LNA launched a ground offensive on Tuesday to recapture the oil port of Ras Lanuf, one of two terminals they lost control of earlier this month, a senior military official said.

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