38 Bangladeshi migrants were fleeced, tortured and shot at by local Arab militants in a grisly massacre in the Libyan town of Mizda this week , leaving at least 26 dead, Bangladesh foreign minister A.K.Abdul Momen has said.
He told Easternlink that 11 injured survivors have been taken to a hospital in an adjoining town of Zintan. Of them, five were in critical condition and the overall death could rise.
Momen said four African migrants were also killed in the bloodbath.
The 38 Bangladesh migrants had been abducted on Wednesday while crisscrossing the country in search of work.
Bangladesh diplomats in Libya told Easternlink they were badly tortured when they could not pay the ransom asked for.
They cited an injured survivor to provide an account of the en masse kidnapping by the members of a militia who took them hostage in Mizda .
Momen told Easternlink : ” The migrants were crossing the desert from Benghazi in search of work when they were taken hostage by the armed militia group near Mizda 15 days ago. That area is completely under control of the militia. We don’t know when the killers will be brought to justice,”
Foreign Minister Momen said Bangladesh has been in touch with the International Organisation for Migration and demanded compensation and justice for the killings.
A survivor of the carnage described the incident to the embassy from an undisclosed location.
The Bangladesh man, Sayedul Islam told diplomats from his country said he was hiding in the house of a Libyan national after escaping the rounding up and the subsequent shooting.
This, he says, happened a day after the killing which , he claimed, was masterminded by the family of a human trafficker to avenge his death at the hands of the angry workers who had cheated the Bangladeshi migrant labourers.
” The migrants paid the traffickers up to $10,000 each but they demanded more and began torturing brutally the hapless migrants for a ransom. At some point in their ordeal . the captives killed the main kidnapper. In retaliation, the militia fired indiscriminately at them,” Momen told Easternlink.
Survivor Sayedul Islam said that the Bangladeshis were at the ‘very end of their patience’ with the unending demands of the human trafficker .
“With no more money left and this man asking for more , an huge altercation erupted into a fistfight. This trafficker was lynched by our people but his armed cohorts, mostly his family men and friends, mowed us down with merciless gunfire,” said Sayedul to Bangladesh diplomats .
Sayedul Islam , who hails from Madaripur district, said the attackers ransacked a pharmacy where he had taken shelter initially.
Libya’s internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) said on Thursday it had issued arrest warrants for suspects in the killing of 26 Bangladeshi and 6 African migrants.
Another 11 migrants survived the shooting at Mizda, a desert town 160 km (100 miles) south of Tripoli, are now in hospital in the neighbouring town of Zintan.
The foreign ministry said in the statement that Bangladesh and two countries were the only ones to have retained their missions in Libya, primary;ly to serve the interests of the large number of migrant labourers.
Other countries have already moved their missions from Libya to Tunisia due to intense civil war .
The Civil Society for Global Commitments on Migration, a platform of organisations that work for migrants’ welfare, has called for cooperation between different countries to find and punish the killers.
It also questioned the presence of new Bangladeshi migrants in Libya five years after the halt on manpower export to the north African country.
The foreign ministry identified most of the victims with single names.
As many as 11 of those killed were from Madaripur district. They are Jewell and Manik of Rajoir Upazila, Ashadul, Aynal Molla and Monir of Tekerhat, Sajib and Shahin of Ishabpur, Shamim and Zakir Hossain of Dudhkhali, and Jewell and Feroz of Sadar Upazila.Seven others were from Kishoreganj district.
And Rajon, Shakil, Shakib Mia, Shohag, Akash and Mohammad Ali of Bhairab Upazila and Rahim of Hosenpur. The others included Sujan and Kamrul from Gopalganj district, Lal Chand from Magura, Arfan from Dhaka and Rakibul from Jashore.
GNA interior minister Fathi Bashagha said authorities were doing all they could to find the perpetrators.
A local official in Mizda, speaking anonymously, said security forces there had not detained them because they had lost a family member.
Mizda is under the control of eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Army (LNA) but not far from areas held by the GNA.
The International Organisation for Migration, a United Nations agency, said the incident took place in a smuggling warehouse where a group of migrants was being held.
“These criminal groups are taking advantage of the instability and security situation to prey on desperate people,” said IOM Libya chief Federico Soda.
Libya is home to a large number of migrants, including some who came to work in its oilfields before the country descended into civil war.
Thousands of these migrants and even local Libyans are found trying to escape to Europe in leaky boats.