Martin Kobler Reiterates Call for Immediate Release of Alshirshari children
14 January 2016 - The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Martin Kobler, reiterates his strong condemnation of the kidnapping of Alshirshari children from Surman, and calls for their immediate and unconditional release.
SRSG Kobler said: “I am deeply saddened by the continued kidnapping of the three children, all under the age of thirteen. I cannot begin to imagine the plight and suffering of their parents and loved-ones. Their case highlights that even children are not immune from kidnapping and abduction, which unfortunately has become common across Libya. I call for their safe and prompt return to their family.”
The SRSG added: “This incident yet again demonstrates the urgent need for Libyans to put aside their differences and work together with the Government of National Accord to fight lawlessness and re-establish order and the rule of law”.
Abdelhamid Mohamed Alshirshari,7, Mohamed Mohamed Alhirshari, 9, and Dahab Mohamed Alshirshari, 12, were kidnapped on 2 December in Surman by unknown assailants. The incident happened in the morning as their mother was accompanying them to school. Their car was intercepted by some six armed men in balaclavas driving in two Chevrolet cars. They shot at the car injuring the driver. The family filed a police report at the Police Directorate of the Western Region and spared no effort in trying to secure the children’s freedom. Following the kidnapping, relatives were called several times by individuals, who did not identify themselves, asking for a large ransom. Recently, such calls ceased.
The Committee to Counter the Crimes of Abduction and Extortion, established by the Sabratah Municipal Council, issued a video “confessions” by individuals suspected of carrying-out kidnappings including of the three children. Following these “confessions” and other reports that the children were kidnapped by armed elements of the Nimri family, at least three people died in the exchange of fire on 9 January in Surman in an attempt by the children’s family and their supporters to free the children. Some 30 people from Surman, Sabratah and other western cities were abducted on 8 January apparently with the aim of exchanging them with individuals arrested by the Committee. According to the Committee, the 30 abducted individuals were released on 10 January. A number of the suspects held by the Committee were also reportedly released.