Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

UK aid reaches besieged Libyan port

A Libyan rebel runs back for safety as shells explode in the distance on the frontline near Brega (AP)

A chartered ship carrying medical supplies from the British Government has docked in the besieged port town of Misrata on as Libyan rebels claimed they had been attacked in Nato air strikes.

Five rebels were killed in the apparent case of friendly fire on trucks and tanks in the eastern port of Brega as General Carter Ham, head of US Africa Command, told a Senate hearing in Washington that the conflict with Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's forces was reaching a stalemate.

There was anger in the town of Ajdabiyah, where the 20 or so wounded were taken to hospital, while Nato said it was investigating an attack by its aircraft.

The cargo, part of the British aid effort to Libya which has topped £10 million so far, included medicine for 30,000 people for the next month, high-protein biscuits for 10,000 and water purification tablets for 2,000 families. It is the largest consignment of British-funded aid to reach Misrata so far.

The British Government has also sent emergency shelters to more than 10,000 people inside Libya. Tents have crossed the border with Egypt and are now on their way to Benghazi.

Elsewhere, fears were growing for two British businessmen who have been detained in Libya for nearly three weeks. Brothers Zeyad and Ghazi Ramadan had been working at a software company in the north African country since December.

According to relatives, a group of men believed to be Internal Security Agency officials broke down the door of the house where the brothers were living in the western district of Tripoli at about 8pm on March 19. The men, who are originally from Leeds, were reportedly arrested, along with their two Libyan guests, Khaled Sury and another unnamed man, also both businessmen.

After the arrest the security officials were said to have remained at the property for several hours, searching and confiscating a number of items including computers and documents.

Amnesty International called on the Libyan authorities to reveal the whereabouts of father-of-two Zeyad, 39, and Ghazi, 40. It believes the men are being held incommunicado and are at risk of being tortured.

Kate Allen, the charity's UK director, said: "We're very worried for these four men and it's disturbing that this amount of time has passed without word of their whereabouts. The Libyan authorities should reveal the men's location and either immediately release them or charge them with a proper criminal offence."

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