Three women travelling with an international aid convoy in Libya have been raped by pro-government forces, according to the country’s deputy prime minister.
The attack happened after the aid workers joined an aid convoy bound for Gaza to break an Israeli blockade, officials from several countries confirmed on Friday.
Libyan deputy prime minister Awad al-Barassi, who visited the women in the hospital, said the victims were traveling with two male companions when they were kidnapped on Tuesday on their way to the Benghazi airport after deciding to return to Britain.
The overland convoy left Britain on Feb. 25, but was stuck for days along the Libyan-Egyptian border after Egyptian border guards refused to let them to cross.
Al-Barassi told Libya al-Hurra TV late Thursday that the women were in “very bad shape.”
Two of the women are sisters and their father witnessed the rape of the women, he said.
Their 10-vehicle convoy carrying medical supplies was named “Mavi Marmara” in honor of a ship involved in a 2010 deadly flotilla incident, according to Huseyin Oruc of IHH, a Turkish humanitarian relief organization.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are aware of an incident in Libya involving a number of British nationals who were part of an aid convoy.
“We are providing consular assistance.”
Libyan state news agency LANA quoted Interior Ministry spokesman Majdi al-Ourfi as saying four men had been arrested in connection with the incident.
An army official said those arrested were believed to be former members of the security forces who were dismissed from their jobs a few months ago.
Benghazi, Libya’s second biggest city, has seen frequent bouts of violence in recent months, including September’s deadly attack on the U.S. mission in which Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed.