Hundreds Escape Libyan Prison amid Clashes between Armed Militias

  • Posted on: 3 September 2018

On Sunday, Sept, 3rd, 2018, more than 400 inmates managed to break out from a jail near the Libyan capital Tripoli amid deadly violence between rival militia groups in the city.

According to the police, the prisoners were able to force the doors open and the guards, fearing for their lives, were not able to contain the breakout following the riots in jail. Clashes between the militias in the city have forced the UN-backed government to declare a state of emergency.

A significant amount of the prisoners held at the Ain Zara prison were reportedly supporters of the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and had been found guilty of killings during the uprising against Gaddafi’s government in 2011.

The recent surge in fighting has included intense shelling of densely populated areas with the death toll reaching to 39 and over 100 wounded according to the Libyan Ministry of Health. Moreover, 5000 were displaced according to the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations.

The violence which gripped the surrounding areas in the past week erupted between the Seventh Brigade, which hails from Tarhouna, a town about 40 miles southeast of Tripoli, against the Tripoli Revolutionaries’ Brigades (TRB) and the Nawasi Brigade, two of the capital’s largest armed groups.

A rocket also hit the Waddan hotel in central Tripoli near the Italian Embassy on Saturday where three people were injured according to the hotel staff. State oil firm NOC confirmed one of its diesel depots used to supply a power station had also been hit by a rocket on Saturday. Separately on Sunday,  a missile hit a displaced persons camp for the Tawergha people in Tripoli where two people have been killed.

Human Rights Watch has also condemned the violence, adding that at least 18 of the dead were reportedly civilians, among them four children.

In a statement on Sunday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said the "indiscriminate use of force is a violation of international humanitarian and human rights law" and has urged "all parties to grant humanitarian relief for those in need". A joint statement by the US, UK, France, and Italy said attempts “to weaken the legitimate Libyan authorities and hinder the ongoing political process are not acceptable”.