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Libya’s security threatened by foreign fighters, says UN report

UNITED NATIONS (AP) – Libya faces a serious security threat from foreign fighters and private military companies, especially Russia’s Wagner Group which has violated international law, United Nations (UN) experts said in a report obtained by The Associated Press (AP).

The experts also accused seven Libyan armed groups of systematically using unlawful detention to punish perceived opponents, ignoring international and domestic civil rights laws, including laws prohibiting torture.

In particular, “migrants have been extremely vulnerable to human rights abuses and regularly subjected to acts of slavery, rape and torture”, the panel said in the report to the UN Security Council obtained on Friday by the AP.

The oil-rich North African nation plunged into turmoil after a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 toppled dictator Moammar Gadhafi, who was later killed. It then became divided between rival governments – one in the east, backed by military commander Khalifa Hifter, and a UN-supported administration in the capital of Tripoli.

Each side is supported by different militias and foreign powers.

In April 2019, Hifter and his forces launched an offensive to try and capture Tripoli.

His campaign collapsed after Turkey stepped up its military support for the UN-supported government with hundreds of troops and thousands of Syrian mercenaries.

An October 2020 cease-fire deal led to an agreement on a transitional government in early February 2021 and elections were scheduled for last December 24 aimed at unifying the country.

A protest against Libya’s Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter. PHOTO: AP