AFRICANGLOBE – At least 17 people, mostly African immigrants, were killed Tuesday during a military pursuit on the road between the northwestern city of Tarhuna and capital Tripoli, a security source said.
“A people smuggler was carrying 12 Nigerien immigrants from Tarhuna to Tripoli when a military patrol pursued his vehicle,” the source, requesting anonymity, told reporters.
“During the pursuit, two military vehicles hit the smuggler’s car, causing a tragic accident, in which the smugglers, the 12 immigrants and four troops were killed,” the source added, noting that 14 troops were also injured in the accident.
African migrants wishing to flee poverty and unemployment in their own countries routinely seek Libya’s northern Mediterranean coast as a traditional gateway to Europe, especially Italy.
The ongoing conflict between Libya’s political factions has loosened security at the borders, further weakening local authorities’ capabilities in combatting the phenomenon.
Over 30,000 migrants entered Libya between March and August of 2013, according to the UN.
Libya has been dogged by political instability since the 2011 NATO-backed ouster and killing of long-ruling strongman Muammar Gaddafi.
Ever since, rival militias have frequently locked horns, bringing violence to much of the country.