News / Africa

Diplomat: New Libyan Clashes Due to Local Dispute

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay also expressed concerns over casualties in Libya, Jan. 19, 2011 (file photo).
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay also expressed concerns over casualties in Libya, Jan. 19, 2011 (file photo).
Margaret Besheer

The U.N.’s top diplomat in Libya, Ian Martin, confirmed publicly Wednesday that recent fighting in the town of Bani Walid was due to a local dispute and not supporters of former Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi trying to reassert control over the city.

In his monthly update to the U.N. Security Council, Martin said the challenge of reconciliation can be highlighted by the outbreak of fighting in the northern town of Bani Walid.

Formerly a stronghold of loyalists to the former Gadhafi government, the town has been the scene of recent clashes. Some media reports say forces loyal to the interim government had been driven from town by pro-Gadhafi forces. Martin called that incorrect.

“Regrettably, in the charged local atmosphere, a security-related incident triggered clashes between members of the local population and the revolutionary brigades stationed in the city, as a result of which several [people] were reportedly killed," said Martin. "This has been misreported as pro-Gadhafi forces taking back control of the city.”

Martin said the Libyan authorities responded by sending units from the national army, and that it is engaging with all parties to contain the situation and address the underlying security and political challenges in the town.

Also present at Wednesday’s Security Council meeting was U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. She addressed outstanding questions regarding possible civilian deaths resulting from NATO operations during the mission to protect Libyan civilians from attacks by the Gadhafi government before it fell. Russia has been an outspoken critic of the NATO mission and among the loudest voices calling for an investigation into civilian casualties.

Pillay said the Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry is investigating the allegations.

"Information so far indicates that NATO made efforts to keep civilian casualties at a minimum," she said. "But where civilians have been killed and injured, the Alliance should disclose information about all such events and about remedial actions undertaken."

Libya’s ambassador, Abdurrahman Shalgham, told the council that he knew of only four NATO bombing incidents where there were possible civilian casualties. In one of the incidents, he said, the Libyan commander had rushed in too soon with his men, putting them at risk.

Shalgham also accused the former dictator’s fighters of hiding out in schools and hospitals, making them NATO targets. He held up a computer memory stick, saying it contained 80,000 telephone conversations between Moammar Gadhafi and the head of a hospital and others, in which the former dictator ordered the bodies of his opponents taken to sites where NATO had bombed, so it would appear as though they had been killed by NATO airstrikes.

Shalgham said the victims’ families would not allow it.

Ambassador Shalgham said Libya has let in several international organizations to investigate the matter and they have concluded that those who died, including civilians, were not killed by NATO.

"Libya is prepared to cooperate with any international investigating body under the auspices of the United Nations," he said via interpreter. "We are going to set up a mechanism to compensate victims psychologically and financially, once we have the results of the investigation."

The Libyan envoy said that without NATO’s assistance “hundreds of thousands” of people would have died in Benghazi alone.

Last year the U.N. Security Council authorized NATO to impose a no-fly zone and conduct targeted airstrikes over Libya from March to October, part of a move to protect citizens in danger of Gadhafi forces who were trying to put down a rebellion against his 42-year rule.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs