Denmark to probe 2011 strikes on Libya that killed 14 civilians

Denmark to probe 2011 strikes on Libya that killed 14 civilians
Above, a Danish air force aircraft in 2011. Up to 10 countries, including Denmark, took part in NATO’s Operation Unified Protector, which lasted six months in 2011. (AFP)
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Updated 25 January 2024
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Denmark to probe 2011 strikes on Libya that killed 14 civilians

Denmark to probe 2011 strikes on Libya that killed 14 civilians
  • Country was aware of potential civilian casualties in 2012 but kept matter private, documents show
  • ‘I want them … to declare their mistake to us,’ says Libyan whose wife, children were killed in airstrike

LONDON: The Danish Defense Ministry is launching an investigation into NATO-led airstrikes on Libya in 2011 in which Denmark’s air force killed 14 civilians, The Guardian reported on Thursday.

It is the first time that any of the 10 countries involved in the NATO campaign to remove former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi from power has admitted potential involvement in the killing of civilians.

The 10 countries, including six from Europe, took part in NATO’s Operation Unified Protector, which lasted six months in 2011.

The campaign led to the collapse of the Qaddafi regime but resulted in more than a decade of instability in Libya, which remains divided to this day.

Danish aerial bombardment led to the killing of civilians in two incidents. The first, an airstrike on Surman, west of Tripoli, killed 12 civilians — including five children and six members of one family — in June 2011.

In September that year, a Danish strike on an apartment block in Sirte killed two civilians — a man and a pregnant woman.

The site was targeted over unconfirmed reports that snipers had set up on the rooftop, The Guardian reported.

Documents show that Denmark had privately understood from as early as 2012 that its military may have been involved in civilian casualties highlighted in a UN commission and by Human Rights Watch.

But its decision to avoid acknowledging the matter publicly prevented relatives of the slain civilians from seeking legal redress.

Khaled Al-Hamedi, whose wife and children were killed in the June 2011 strike on Surman, tried to bring a legal claim against NATO but was rebuffed by the Belgian court of appeal, which ruled in 2017 that the alliance had immunity from prosecution.

Al-Hamedi’s father, a senior figure in the Qaddafi regime, owned the Surman compound that was targeted in the strike.

But the Libyan national disputed a NATO claim that the building served as a “command and control node,” describing it as residential.

Al-Hamedi said he would consider bringing a claim against Denmark after discovering that officials from the country were aware of the possibility of civilian casualties more than a decade ago. “I want them first to declare their mistake to us … to say sorry as well,” he added.

The Danish Defense Ministry said in a statement: “The minister of defence has requested the Defence Command to assess whether the documents in question indicate that there were ramifications of such magnitude that an investigation should have been conducted at that time within the coalition or NATO framework.”

One newly released document from 2012, detailing Denmark’s response to the UN commission’s findings on the Surman and Sirte strikes, said: “Civilian casualties … cannot be ruled out.”

Marc Garlasco, an adviser to the UN-established international commission of inquiry on Libya, said: “It is greatly disappointing that there wasn’t enough transparency that they put this out at a time back when it could be useful.

“Useful not only for lessons learned, so that lives could be saved in the future, but also useful for the victims of these strikes — that they could have an understanding of why their family members were killed and could potentially receive some kind of compensation for their loss.”

Responding to Denmark’s opening of an investigation, a NATO official said the campaign in Libya involved “unprecedented precision” and “exceptional care … to minimize risks to civilians.”

NATO’s internal investigations into strikes on Libya were complicated by its lack of ground forces in the country, which could have been used to inspect damage to targeted sites.

“There was no invitation from the Libyan authorities for NATO to send personnel into the country to review strikes,” the official added.

Tessa Gregory, a partner at British public law firm Leigh Day, said: “In military operations where it is alleged that civilian casualties have occurred, it is imperative that those allegations are properly investigated and that victims are given enough information to seek redress under international and domestic legal mechanisms. Without transparency, it is likely a culture of impunity will flourish.”


Houthi leader says UK’s Sunak has chance to recover Rubymar by letting aid into Gaza

This satellite image taken by Maxar Technologies shows the Belize-flagged ship Rubymar in the Red Sea on Friday, March 1, 2024.
This satellite image taken by Maxar Technologies shows the Belize-flagged ship Rubymar in the Red Sea on Friday, March 1, 2024.
Updated 7 sec ago
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Houthi leader says UK’s Sunak has chance to recover Rubymar by letting aid into Gaza

This satellite image taken by Maxar Technologies shows the Belize-flagged ship Rubymar in the Red Sea on Friday, March 1, 2024.
  • The Houthis insist their attacks will continue until Israel stops its combat operations in the Gaza Strip, which have enraged the wider Arab world and seen the Houthis gain international recognition

CAIRO: A senior Houthi leader said on Saturday he held British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his government responsible for the sinking of the UK-owned Rubymar.
Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi, head of Yemen’s Houthi supreme revolutionary committee, also said on X: “Sunak has a chance to recover the Rubymar by allowing aid trucks into Gaza.”
Yemen’s internationally recognized government said earlier on Saturday that the Rubymar, which was attacked by Houthi militants last month, had sunk in the Red Sea and warned of an “environmental catastrophe” from the ship’s cargo of fertilizer.

 


Tunisian authorities investigate a fire at a synagogue, question a suspect in custody

Tunisian forces secure an area near the Ghriba synagogue following a shootout on the resort island of Djerba on May 10, 2023.
Tunisian forces secure an area near the Ghriba synagogue following a shootout on the resort island of Djerba on May 10, 2023.
Updated 11 min 8 sec ago
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Tunisian authorities investigate a fire at a synagogue, question a suspect in custody

Tunisian forces secure an area near the Ghriba synagogue following a shootout on the resort island of Djerba on May 10, 2023.
  • In May, five people were killed in a shooting attack on the historic Ghriba synagogue on Tunisia’s island of Djerba

TUNIS, Tunisia: A man believed to have started a fire in a garden at a synagogue in the east of Tunisia is in custody and under investigation for targeting a Jewish house of worship, officials said Saturday.
Hichem ben Ayad, the public prosecutor in the eastern port city of Sfax, told The Associated Press that a garden in the courtyard of the city’s synagogue was set on fire last Sunday. An investigation was opened and a suspect was arrested, he said.
The suspect is a public official his late 40s, ben Ayad said. He is being questioned to establish if the fire — which the prosecutor said was “a criminal act” — was premediated and deliberately targeted the Jewish house of worship.
There were no casualties in the fire that was extinguished the same day, ben Ayad said. He added that the blaze did not cause significant damage to the building. The synagogue appeared to be empty at the time, he said.
In May, five people were killed in a shooting attack on the historic Ghriba synagogue on Tunisia’s island of Djerba. Authorities said a Tunisian national guardsman was behind the attack.
The assailant intentionally targeted the ancient synagogue on the Mediterranean island in a premeditated act, Tunisian officials said.

 


Kuwait calls on voters to elect members of the national assembly on April 4

Kuwait calls on voters to elect members of the national assembly on April 4
Updated 03 March 2024
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Kuwait calls on voters to elect members of the national assembly on April 4

Kuwait calls on voters to elect members of the national assembly on April 4
  • Last month, Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah issued a decree to dissolve parliament

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait called on Saturday for voters to elect members of the national assembly on April 4, Kuwait News Agency said.

On Wednesday, government spokesman Amer Al-Ajmi said the Kuwaiti Cabinet had approved a draft emiri decree inviting voters to elect the National Assembly and added that registration of candidates would begin on March 4.

Last month, Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah issued a decree to dissolve the parliament.

The decree was based on the national assembly’s “violation of the constitutional principles,” KUNA added.

The assembly was elected in June 2023 following a proposal by the prime minister that was approved by the cabinet.


Thousands protest Tunisia economic woes

Thousands protest Tunisia economic woes
Updated 02 March 2024
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Thousands protest Tunisia economic woes

Thousands protest Tunisia economic woes
  • Protesters denounce the implementation of "diktats" from the IMF at the expense of ordinary Tunisians
  • Tunisia's economy is at a standstill with growth of 0.4 percent and an unemployment rate of 16.4 percent in 2023

TUNIS: Thousands protested deteriorating living standards outside the prime minister’s office in Tunis on Saturday following a call from Tunisia’s main trade union confederation.

“The economic and social situation continues to worsen,” the confederation’s head, Noureddine Taboubi, said in a speech to protesters.
Taboubi said the state’s ability to service its foreign debt in 2023 had been “to the detriment of the people and resulted in shortages of basic products.”
He criticized the implementation of “diktats from the International Monetary Fund” (IMF) at the expense of ordinary Tunisians.
The Tunisian economy is at a standstill with growth of 0.4 percent and an unemployment rate of 16.4 percent in 2023, according to the National Institute of Statistics.
Unemployment stood at 15.2 percent at the end of 2022.
President Kais Saied has ruled by decree since a July 2021 power grab and last year rammed through a constitution that gave his office unlimited powers and neutered parliament.
Weathering a grave economic crisis, Tunis concluded an agreement with the IMF in October 2022 for a $2 billion loan facility.
But loan tranches stalled when the president rejected reforms demanded by the IMF.
 


Investigation into death of El-Arish University student reopened

Members of the Egyptian police special forces stand guard in Cairo. (AFP file photo)
Members of the Egyptian police special forces stand guard in Cairo. (AFP file photo)
Updated 02 March 2024
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Investigation into death of El-Arish University student reopened

Members of the Egyptian police special forces stand guard in Cairo. (AFP file photo)
  • El-Zoghbi’s father Salah said: “I do not know the details of what Naira faced, but we approached the prosecution after finding threatening messages from some of her peers on her phone

CAIRO: The Egyptian Public Prosecutor decided on Saturday to reopen the investigation into the death of Naira Salah El-Zoghbi, a 21-year-old veterinary medicine student at El-Arish University in North Sinai whose death 10 days ago was originally recorded as a suicide.

Allegations of blackmail and bullying linked to El-Zoghbi’s death have been circulated widely on social media.

Ahmed Salama, the lawyer representing El-Zoghbi’s family, told Arab News: “The prosecution ordered the exhumation of the victim’s body to determine the cause of death. Her grave in the village of Meet Tarif, her hometown in the Dakahlia governorate, was opened under security surveillance to take necessary samples.”

Salama added: “Investigations are underway to uncover the circumstances of the girl’s death, awaiting the forensic report that will be issued and announced in due time.

“There might be a criminal angle because we learned that a cat which drank from the same cup as Naira died instantly.”

El-Zoghbi’s father Salah said: “I do not know the details of what Naira faced, but we approached the prosecution after finding threatening messages from some of her peers on her phone.

“I was unaware of what exactly happened to my daughter, but I was surprised by a call from the university requesting my presence. Upon arrival, I learned of Naira’s death without knowing the cause. After going to the hospital, it turned out my daughter died from acute poisoning, and her body was released for burial last Sunday.”

He added: “I was surprised by (claims) on social media that several of her peers had blackmailed her due to disputes and because she was distinguished and excelled academically. However, I did not know the nature of these problems or the blackmail. Naira used to talk to her mother and tell her about some normal issues with her peers, but she didn’t know the real reasons behind these problems.”

Egyptian newspapers quoted El-Zoghbi’s mother as saying that she received a call from her daughter, who was in distress due to severe “cramps and vomiting.”

Her mother advised her to take some painkillers, but, shortly after, the university called to inform the family that El-Zoghbi had been taken to hospital. By the time her family arrived in El-Arish, El-Zoghbi had already been pronounced dead.

One of El-Zoghbi’s fellow students, who asked to remain anonymous and was among those who initiated the “Justice for El-Arish Student” campaign on Facebook, told Arab News: “I joined peers in a campaign to demand justice for Naira, and we found overwhelming support.

“We knew there were disputes between (Naira) and one of her roommates following a verbal altercation in the presence of several students.

“Some students said that her roommate had secretly photographed her in the bathroom to humiliate and bully her due to the altercation that occurred between them.”

Some of El-Zoghbi’s friends claimed her roommate had sent El-Zoghbi threats, demanding an apology and warning that otherwise she would expose her by posting her pictures on social-media platforms.

El-Zoghbi apparently complied and apologized on a private WhatsApp group for the university’s students.

A source from the university administration revealed details of the incident to Arab News, saying: “The student swallowed a pesticide pill while she was on campus and survived for more than 12 hours. Attempts were made to treat her at the hospital, but she eventually passed away.”