Friday, January 06, 2017

Tallying the Deaths in Libya in 2016
6 January 2017, 2:36pm
Independent Online
Mel Frykberg

Smoke rises as Libyan forces allied with the U.N.-backed government take cover during a battle with Islamic State militants in Sirte. Picture: Supplied

Johannesburg – A total of 1 523 people died in violent incidents, including bombings and shootings in Libya during 2016, the NGO Libyabodycount.org has reported.

This figure was similar to the 1 519 people who died in similar circumstances during 2015 – but much lower than the 2 825 people who lost their lives during bloody confrontations the year before.

Three Libyan cities recorded deaths of more than 100 people with former dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s home town of Sirte losing 693 residents, Benghazi in the east of Libya 307, and the capital Tripoli in the west 102.

The violence was particularly high in Sirte, where Libyan soldiers have been battling to expel Islamic State (IS) extremists from the city situated on the Mediterranean coast, half-way between Tripoli and Benghazi.

The IS state took over Sirte in 2014 before the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord’s forces (Bunyan Marsous) launched their military campaign with the help of US air strikes.

Meanwhile, Italy’s new interior minister, Marco Minniti, is expected in Tripoli next week for talks on terrorism and curtailing migrant smuggling operations, the Libya Herald reported.

He is due to meet Faiez Serraj, the head of Libya’s Presidency Council, with the aim of working out an agreement on blocking illegal migration routes from Libya.

“Around 90 per cent of migrants arriving in Italy travel by boat from Libya,” the Italian interior ministry reported in a statement.

The number in 2016 was up to 176 554. That is eight times higher than in 2013.

A UN report indicates that most of the migrants that arrived in Italy in 2016 were from Nigeria, Eritrea and Guinea.

Rome’s main objective is to prevent the migrants entering Libya before they even have the chance to cross the Mediterranean in an attempt to reach Italy.

Stopping immigration is a top priority of the new government of Paolo Gentiloni and his centre-left Democratic Party.

African News Agency

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