18 Feb 2011

Libya: ‘Armed men kidnap wounded from hospital’

Armed uniformed men are storming Libyan hospitals tending to those wounded in anti-Government protests and dragging them away in the middle of the night, a nurse in Benghazi tells Channel 4 News.

Libya: 'Armed men kidnap wounded from hospital' - Reuters

Unverified reports say that around 50 people were killed in clashes around the country, mainly in the eastern cities of al-Bayda and Benghazi. There are suggestions that anti-Gaddafi protesters have taken control of al-Bayda after being joined by local police.

But due to there being no independent media in the country, virtually no government officials who are not devoted to Muammar Gaddafi, widespread phone-tapping and the prominence of government informants, any reports are difficult to verify and many Libyans are too scared or paranoid to speak to media outside of the country.

But Channel 4 News spoke to nurse in a Benghazi hospital on Friday morning. The nurse said that in the last two days, “at least” 15 people had died in the hospital from gunshot wounds and two men being treated “were still unconscious after two days after suffering injuries [which appear to have been caused by] being hit so many times by the ends of guns.”

The nurse said that last night, armed men, wearing “military or police” uniforms, which the nurse had “not seen before” entered the hospital at around 2am, and carried away three patients who were involved and injured in the protest on Thursday night.

The source added that nurses and doctors were ushered into a room and kept there until the patients had been loaded into a vehicle outside.

The nurse told Channel 4 News: “I am terrified, we are all terrified. But we have to stay, because it is looking like it’s getting worse every day. This is not Egypt, there is no restraint. Many people will die. Many foreigners are leaving, most have already left, for Tripoli at least, others out of the country completely.”

From Tripoli, an engineer told Channel 4 News that most of the major foreign companies based there – oil, construction and engineering firms – had started to “swamp” embassies and consulates with exit forms.

He said: “Although Tripoli is the power base of Gaddafi, where the majority of his closest and strongest allies are, where support amongst the people is greatest, there is unrest building up in the suburbs, and that is making people very edgy indeed.

“Like anyone who knows Libya will tell you: this country is not the same as Egypt or Tunisia or Bahrain. Gaddafi ‘s grip is too strong and, comparatively to what was there before him, many people have prospered. There is a consensus amongst foreign nationals here that there will not be, in any city, a critical mass of protests. But if there was, it would be a massacre.”

He added that the general shared fear amongst expatriates in Libya is “if the Libyans start to turn on foreigners.”