More Foreigners Killed in Libya: Europe Concerned About Deepening Instability

Written by | Monday, January 6th, 2014

A UK man and a New Zealand woman were found dead with gunshot wounds outside the western city of Sabratha in western Libya last week while two Americans were arrested in the eastern city of Benghazi. The deceased bodies were found near the coastal area of Mellitah that houses a large oil and gas complex co-owned by Italy’s ENI, alongside their luggage but their belongings had not been stolen and the motive for their killing was unclear. Both British and New Zealand diplomats were aware of reports that the bodies of two foreign nationals had been found in Libya and were urgently seeking further information from the local authorities.
The Briton, who has been named by the UK Foreign Office as energy worker Mark De Salis, had been working as a power manager for First Engineering, bringing generators to Tripoli to provide electricity. The UK government has called on Libyan authorities to investigate the “murder” of Mr De Salis and his friend. The killings came a month after a US teacher was shot dead while out for a run in the eastern city of Benghazi. In a separate incident, two American basketball players were arrested on the campus of Benghazi University and were being held by the Libyan army at its headquarters in the eastern city of Benghazi. According to an army source, they were both arrested by university guards and then brought by special forces to the army barracks. Last Friday (27 December), four American military personnel were detained by the Libyan authorities and released after several hours in custody. The New York Times reported that they were working on potential evacuation plans for American government employees.
Following the killing of the US teacher a month ago, the Foreign Office warned that further attacks against Westerners were likely and that these could be opportunistic. While warning of a “high threat from terrorism including kidnapping”, the Foreign Office advises against all travel to most parts of Libya and against all but essential travel to coastal areas to the west and east. All these cases demonstrate to high degree to which the security situation has deteriorated in recent months in this North African country, where the government is struggling to keep control of the militias and tribesmen who helped topple Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and kept their guns.

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