Residents of Zawiya, a city in western Libya, protested against militia groups accused of recruiting migrants into their ranks for alleged acts of torture. The city is a key departure point for migrants seeking to cross the Mediterranean for Europe, and many seek work there while awaiting the sea crossing.
The alleged abuses range from extortion to slavery. In recent years, human traffickers have taken advantage of Libya’s more than a decade of violence since the fall and killing of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011. Rights groups have accused both authorities and armed groups operating under state auspices of torture and other abuses. The protest began late Wednesday, forcing the closure of the city council and blocking access to the oil refinery and roads to the city.
The demonstrators gathered in the city centre, blocking roads and burning tires, and calling for justice and the expulsion of migrants. The local authorities and the Tripoli government have not officially commented on the matter.