Concerns mount for abducted Libyan lawmaker, Amnesty says

Abdullah Doma, AFP | Libya's House of Representatives in Benghazi

Amnesty International voiced growing concern Friday for the safety of a Libyan lawmaker after her “horrific” night-time abduction in the city of Benghazi.


Siham Sergewa disappeared on July 17 in an attack that also allegedly saw her husband shot in the leg, shortly after she spoke on Al-Hadath television which backs eastern Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar.

She called during the broadcast for “an end to the bloodshed”, referring to an offensive launched in April by Haftar’s forces to wrest control of Tripoli from those loyal to a unity government.

“The horrific abduction... illustrates the acute dangers facing publicly active women in Libya who dare to express criticism of militias,” said Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa deputy director Magdalena Mughrabi.

“Fears for her safety are growing by the day,” she added in a statement from the rights group.

The United Nations called on July 18 for an investigation into Sergewa’s disappearance and for her immediate release.

The lawmaker “appears to have come under attack as punishment for peacefully expressing her opinions and criticising” Haftar’s offensive, Mughrabi said.

Witness testimony indicated the attackers were affiliated with Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army, which controls Benghazi, the statement added.

Amnesty said Sergewa’s husband had been shot in the leg during the attack and her 16-year-old son “badly beaten”.

After the assault, graffiti was left in the house reading “the army is a red line”, the rights group said, quoting a witness as saying that the attackers arrived in cars marked with the words “military police”.

Airport raids wound three

Overnight Thursday and Friday morning, forces loyal to Haftar raided two airports controlled by the unity government in northern Libya wounding three people, the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) said.

Mitiga, Tripoli’s sole functioning airport, and Zuwara airfield were targeted for the second time in less than 48 hours.

Airport management at Mitiga reported rocket fire against the runway “as planes took off and landed”.

The Tripoli-based GNA said on Facebook that Haftar’s forces “targeted employees of the airport services company” at Mitiga with Grad missiles, causing shrapnel wounds to two workers and damaging a bus.

Flights were temporarily suspended or rerouted to Misrata, 200 kilometres (120 miles) east of Tripoli.

In the Zuwara airfield attack, the LNA said it targeted a hangar “which houses Turkish drones and their ammunition”.

The GNA said a member of civil protection was wounded in that attack.

Forces loyal to the GNA and the LNA are embroiled in a stalemate in Tripoli’s southern outskirts.

Fighting over the last four months has killed 1,093 people and wounded 5,752, according to the World Health Organisation.

Some 120,000 have been displaced over the same period.

Libya has been mired in chaos since a NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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