Belfast Telegraph

Brother of Irish general election candidate killed in Libya protests

By Allison Bray

The brother of an Irish general election candidate was killed during the anti-government protests in Libya.

Libyan national Hussein Hamed (49) is running as an Independent candidate for Dublin South. He said his stepbrother Abdulkareem Hamed (20) was killed on Sunday when he was struck by anti-aircraft fire from forces loyal to military leader Muammar Gaddafi.

He did so as the Republic's Department of Foreign Affairs last night urged Irish citizens to leave the troubled north African nation.

His young brother, who was studying economics at university in his hometown of Benghazi, was among an unknown number of protesters killed in Libya's second-largest city in recent days during a bloody crackdown by security forces.

"My understanding is he was shot by anti-aircraft fire as he was about to throw a stone in front of the Republican Guards," Mr Hamed told the Irish Independent yesterday.

"My family is now is in a state of shock," he said of his 20 siblings caught up in the uprising. "But at least we are proud that one of our family died fighting for Libya."

Mr Hamed is among at least three members of Ireland's Libyan community who have lost family in recent days as the protests verge on civil war amid reports of a massacre by the military.

Hospital consultant Dr Ibrihim El Sherif led a group of about 60 Libyans who marched to the Dail yesterday after delivering a letter to the Department of Foreign Affairs urging Ireland to condemn the Libyan government's violent response to the uprising.

"More than 300 people have died in the last four days in Libya; thousands more are injured," he said.

They are also calling on Ireland and other EU countries to provide emergency medical aid.

The group also marched to the EU headquarters in Dublin yesterday urging it to act to stop the bloodshed.

"We want freedom. We want justice. We want freedom of expression, we want the freedom that we can go to the ballot box like the Irish people in coming days," he said.

"We don't have it there and we haven't had it for the last 42 years. We have only a one-man show," he said of Col Gaddafi's military rule.

Meanwhile, the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs last night urged any Irish citizens in Libya to seek commercial flights out of the country as soon as possible. "The issue isn't getting a plane into Benghazi but it's getting to the airport," a spokesman said.

Consular officials have been in touch with an estimated 40 Irish citizens in Libya and there have been no reports of any casualties to date.

Expatriates include at least six Irish workers living in Benghazi who are working for Dublin-based Mercury Engineering while others are believed to be working in the education, communications and service sectors.

Retired DCU professor Helena Sheehan is among the Irish in Tripoli. She was to deliver a lecture there that has since been cancelled.

"Most foreigners were checking out of hotel this morning to leave the country. It's eerie. The situation is very tense. State TV has been showing happy singing and dancing, montages of Gaddafi and pro-government demos," she wrote.

Belfast Telegraph


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