Rights groups condemn video purported to show Libya killings

AP News
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Posted: Jan 25, 2018 3:13 PM
Rights groups condemn video purported to show Libya killings

BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) — Leading international rights groups on Thursday condemned a video that recently went viral on social media purportedly showing a man shooting and killing 10 people at close range in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, near the site of this week's massive twin car bombing.

Human Rights Watch said the killings shown in the video would "constitute war crimes" while Amnesty International said the video shows "the horrifying consequences of the rampant impunity that exists in Libya."

In the video, the shooter, a man in military uniform, is seen standing before 10 blindfolded people in blue jumpsuits who are on their knees, hands tied behind their backs. He then opens fire with a machine gun, shooting each man in the head.

HRW and Amnesty said the shooter appears to be Libyan commander Mahmoud al-Warfalli, wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes since August 2017. The Associated Press could not independently confirm the man's identity.

Earlier, the U.N. mission in Libya expressed its alarm over the killings and said the ICC has "documented at least 5 similar cases, in 2017 alone, carried out or ordered by al-Warfalli." Along with Amnesty, the U.N. mission in Libya demanded the immediate handover of al-Warfalli.

Al-Warfalli heads an anti-terrorism unit under Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter, who commands Libya's self-styled national army based in the country's east and loyal to the government there. Hifter is at odds with Libya's U.N.-backed government based in the capital, Tripoli.

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Libya descended into chaos after the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed dictator Moammar Gadhafi. The country is currently split between rival governments and parliaments based in the western and eastern regions, each backed by different militias and tribes.

On Tuesday night, a twin car bombing near a mosque in Benghazi's Salmani neighborhood killed at least 33 people. No group claimed responsibility for the attack but many believe it bore the hallmarks of the Islamic State group, which had been largely driven out of Libya.

Benghazi remains a trouble spot, with occasional bombings and attacks. The city has also seen fighting between forces loyal to Hifter and Islamist militia opponents.