African mercenaries in Libya nervously await their fate

Crowded into an empty classroom which was stinking of unwashed bodies and reeking of fear, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s defeated mercenary killers awaited their fate.

A week earlier the men – Libyan loyalists of the dictator and black African recruits – had been landed at airports throughout eastern Libyaand sent out into the streets to shoot protesters in a murderous rampage. They killed dozens before they were overwhelmed by anti-Gaddafi militias.

The survivors were exhausted, filthy, far from home, and fearful of execution, even though they had been assured of good treatment. Fifty of them lay on mattresses on the floor in one classroom alone, with nearly 100 more in the same school building which was being used as a temporary prison. Most looked dazed. Some were virtually children.

“A man at the bus station in Sabha offered me a job and said I would get a free flight to Tripoli,” said Mohammed, a boy of about 16 who said he had arrived looking for work in the southern Libyan town only two weeks ago from Chad, where he had earned a living as a shepherd.

Instead of Tripoli, he was flown to an airport near the scruffy seaside town of Al-Bayda and had a gun thrust into his hands on the plane.

Gaddafi’s commanders told the ragbag army they had rounded up that rebels had taken over the eastern towns. The colonel would reward them if they killed protesters. If they refused, they would be shot themselves. The result was bloody mayhem.

About fifty people were killed in Al-Bayda city and twenty more in a village near the airport. Dozens of anti-Gaddafi militia were killed or wounded during a terrific firefight at the airport where 3000 local men gathered to attack mercenary reinforcements as they disembarked from a plane.

Hundreds more were killed in battles in Benghazi and almost every other town in eastern Libya.

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27.02.2011 | por martalanca | Líbia, mercenários