UN chief calls for immediate halt to Libya fighting

Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres speaks to the media during his visit at Al-Baqaa Palestinian refugee camp, near Amman, Jordan April 6, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 09 April 2019
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UN chief calls for immediate halt to Libya fighting

  • Libya has been rocked by violent power struggles between an array of armed groups since the NATO-backed overthrow of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011

UNITED NATIONS, United States: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday strongly condemned the military escalation near Tripoli and called for an immediate halt to the fighting in Libya.
The appeal followed an air attack by the forces of commander Khalifa Haftar on the Mitiga airport east of the capital.
Guterres “urges the immediate halt of all military operations in order to de-escalate the situation and prevent an all-out conflict,” said a UN statement.
He “strongly condemns the military escalation and ongoing fighting in and around Tripoli, including the aerial attack today by a Libyan National Army (LNA) aircraft against Mitiga airport.”
The air strike shut down Tripoli’s only functioning airport as fighting raged around the capital and thousands fled.
Haftar’s self-styled LNA claimed Monday’s air strike against the airport, with a spokesman saying the attack targeted a MiG-23 military plane and a helicopter.
Haftar launched the offensive on Tripoli last week just as Guterres was in Libya to push for a political deal on holding elections.
A UN-backed unity government controls the capital, but its authority is not recognized by a parallel administration in the east of the country.
As fighting escalated over the weekend, the United Nations called for a humanitarian pause to allow civilians trapped in the violence to escape, but the appeal fell on deaf ears.
Libya has been rocked by violent power struggles between an array of armed groups since the NATO-backed overthrow of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.


Dead body business attracts medics, drug dealers in Egypt

Egyptian Christians stand outside St. Markos Church in Minya, south of Cairo, Egypt, in this Jan. 6, 2015 file photo. (AP)
Updated 41 min 12 sec ago
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Dead body business attracts medics, drug dealers in Egypt

  • Some of the gravediggers remove tissues and grease from the bones by boiling them to remove their odor before selling them to students

CAIRO: The Egyptian Orthodox Church has issued a statement condemning the theft of the body of the Patriarch Gerges, son of priest Ibrahim Al-Basit, from his family’s burial place in the Minya governorate.
Last Saturday, the cemetery was opened and Al-Basit’s body was stolen. The crime of stealing the bodies of the dead has recently spread across Egypt, especially while the sanctity of the body remains preserved. It is also common for the remains to be collected two years after the burial.
Last October, a gang was arrested after stealing bodies from their graves. An investigation has revealed that the main defendant sold the bodies to medical students for practical learning.
Some of the gravediggers remove tissues and grease from the bones by boiling them to remove their odor before selling them to students.
The investigation found that the defendant had put a price on various limbs. The leg and the arm were priced at 3,000 Egyptian pounds ($180), the skull cost 5,000 pounds and the whole body was worth 20,000 pounds.
Ashraf Farahat, a legal expert and lawyer, said that Egyptian law demands up to five years of imprisonment and a fine of 100-500 pounds for criminals who violate the sanctity of graves.
Yasser Sayed Ahmed, a legal expert and lawyer, said he knew of many cases where cemetery guards and assistants help people access graves for superstitious reasons in exchange for large sums of money.
The majority of these cases are happening with the help of the guards of the tombs. They exhume graves at night to extract the bodies and separate the organs to sell bones and skulls. They often sell them to drug dealers by grinding and mixing some materials for sale at high prices.