Mourners carry the coffin of one of the victims of a shootout the previous day at an anti-militia protest in Tripoli, on November 16, 2013. (AFP)
Mourners carry the coffin of one of the victims of a shootout the previous day at an anti-militia protest in Tripoli, on November 16, 2013. (AFP)

Libyan journalist killed; others injured, detained

New York, November 18, 2013–The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on Libyan authorities to ensure that an investigation is carried out into the death of Saleh Ayyad Hafyana, a photographer for the independent Fassato News Agency, who was shot dead Friday while covering anti-militia protests in Tripoli, according to Fassato. 

On Friday, militias from Misrata opened fire on largely peaceful protesters who were demonstrating against the presence of militias in the capital, leaving 43 people dead and at least 460 wounded, according to news reports and Human Rights Watch. The shooting ensued when the demonstrators approached the Gharghour neighborhood controlled by the militias, according to news reports.

Hafyana was hit by shrapnel when the militia members opened fire on the crowd. He was taken to the emergency section of Abu Selim hospital but died shortly after, according to Fassato. He is the first journalist to be killed for his work in Libya since 2011, according to CPJ research.

“If the government wants to strengthen the rule of law in Libya, bringing the killers of Saleh Ayyad Hafyana to justice would be an important step,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “Authorities should also ensure that journalists are able to work without fear for their safety.”

Among those hurt were three journalists, according to news reports: Ahmed El-Wehishi, a contributor to the news website Libya Gate; Issam Mohamed Al-Zobir, a correspondent for Spanish news agency EFE; and freelancer Abdel Man’im Al-Maryami. On his Facebook page, Al-Maryami said that he was shot in the shoulder and hospitalized and that he would seek medical care in neighboring Tunisia. There was no immediate information on the extent of El-Wehishi’s or Al-Zobir’s injuries.

Local news outlets also reported that Tarek Al-Huni, the manager of the state-owned news agency Al-Wataniya, was detained for nearly six hours by unidentified armed men. Al-Huni was trying to help casualties of the clashes at a nearby hospital, the reports said.  The motive for holding him was unclear.

CPJ has documented several cases of kidnappings and assaults on journalists and media outlets by armed groups in Libya this year. Frequent government promises to end the presence of militias in Tripoli have not been met. Residents of Tripoli launched a general strike Sunday to demand the militias be abolished, according to news reports.

  • For more data and analysis on Libya, visit CPJ’s Libya page here.