UN concern over bodies dumped in east Libyan cities

UN special representative and head of the UN support mission in Libya (UNSMIL) Ghassan Salame (L) and Libya's unity government Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj (R) attend an event to announce the official launch of the 2018 Libya Humanitarian Response Plan. (AFP)
Updated 27 January 2018
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UN concern over bodies dumped in east Libyan cities

TUNIS: The UN has said it is “appalled” by apparent retaliatory killings in Libya following reports of eight bodies found in the eastern cities of Benghazi and Derna.
Five bodies were found in Benghazi’s Laithi neighborhood on Friday, residents told Reuters. Pictures posted on social media appeared to show the bodies, bloodied and mutilated, lying in the dirt.
The pictures could not be independently verified, and security officials in Benghazi declined to comment.
In Derna, 250 kilometers (155 miles) east of Benghazi, the bodies of three people who appeared to have been summarily killed were found dumped in the city on Thursday, medical sources said.
“UNSMIL is appalled by new reports of retribution killings in Libya,” the UN’s Libya mission, UNSMIL, said on its Twitter account.
“The brutal pattern of violence must end. Those in effective control of fighters and those ordering, committing such crimes are liable under international law.”
The reports came after a twin car bombing in Benghazi left 35 people dead and dozens injured on Tuesday, and on Wednesday pictures and video emerged purporting to show the summary execution of 10 prisoners outside the mosque where the bombing took place.
Benghazi is controlled by the Libyan National Army (LNA), the dominant force in eastern Libya. It is led by Khalifa Haftar and fought Islamists and other opponents in Benghazi from 2014 until late last year as part of a wider conflict that developed in Libya after a 2011 uprising.
Notes had been left with the bodies found in Benghazi accusing the victims of militant Islamist loyalties, said residents, who did not want to be named for security reasons.
There have been a number of cases of bodies with gunshot wounds and showing signs of abuse found in Benghazi in areas under LNA control.
In Derna, the LNA has long been battling the Derna Mujahideen Shoura Council (DMSC), an armed alliance that controls the city.
The DMSC said it had arrested three people earlier this week for allegedly plotting attacks on behalf of the LNA. A Derna resident said the three were the same men whose bodies were found on Thursday.
The DMSC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Iraq lifts nearly 30 km of blast walls from Baghdad: official

Updated 17 June 2019
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Iraq lifts nearly 30 km of blast walls from Baghdad: official

BAGHDAD: Iraqi authorities have removed nearly 30 kilometers of concrete blast walls across Baghdad in the last six months, mostly around the capital’s high-security Green Zone, a senior official told AFP.
Since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, T-walls — thick barriers about six meters tall and one meter wide — have surrounded potential targets of car bombs or other attacks.
When premier Adel Abdel Mahdi came to power last year, he promised to remove barriers, checkpoints and other security measures to make Baghdad easier to navigate.
“Over the last six months, we removed 18,000 T-walls in Baghdad, including 14,000 in the Green Zone alone,” said Staff Lt. Gen. Mohammed Al-Bayati, the PM’s top military adviser.
Hundreds of the security checkpoints that contributed to Baghdad’s notorious traffic jams have also been removed.
And according to the Baghdad municipality, 600 streets that had been closed off to public access have been opened in the last six months.
Among them are key routes crossing through Baghdad’s Green Zone, the enclave where government buildings, UN agencies and embassies including the US and UK missions are based.
It was long inaccessible to most Iraqis until an order from Abdel Mahdi last year, and families can now be seen picking their way across its manicured parks for sunset pictures.
Iraq is living a rare period of calm after consecutive decades of violence, which for Baghdad peaked during the sectarian battles from 2006 to 2008.
It was followed, in 2014, by Daesh’s sweep across a third of the country and a three-year battle to oust the militants from their urban strongholds.
The group still wages hit-and-run attacks against Iraqi security forces and government targets, and Baghdad’s authorities are on high alert.
Thousands of the removed T-walls have been placed on Baghdad’s outskirts to prevent infiltration by Daesh sleeper cells, according to Bayati.