Pro-Gaddafi Forces Shoot at Medical Team in Misratah, Wounding Medics, Says Amnesty International

Press Release
March 4, 2011

Pro-Gaddafi Forces Shoot at Medical Team in Misratah, Wounding Medics, Says Amnesty International

Amnesty International Press Release
For Immediate Release
Friday, March 4, 2011-03-04

Pro-Gaddafi Forces Shoot at Medical Team in Misratah, Wounding Medics, Says Amnesty International

Organization Condems Deliberate Attack on Medical Workers, Saying it Shows Pro-Gaddafi Forces will Use “Indiscriminate” Lethal Force

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, 212-633-4150, strimel@aiusa.org

(Washington) – A medical team in Libya has told Amnesty International that it  came under deliberate attack – and two medics were wounded – from pro-Gaddafi security forces Thursday, while carrying out their medical duties.

Two medics from the Libyan Red Crescent trying to retrieve a body near the town of Misratah were shot and injured in an attack from a nearby military installation belonging to the Hamza Phalange, a military force loyal to Colonel al-Gaddafi.

"This was a deliberate attack on medical professionals, who were wearing full medical uniform and arrived in two clearly marked Red Crescent ambulances," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa director.

"This disturbing assault indicates that pro-Gaddafi forces are prepared to use lethal force indiscriminately even against those whose role it is to care for the wounded and pick up the dead."

A convoy including two ambulances travelled from Misratah to collect the corpse of a man who had been shot on Monday in unclear circumstances close to the Hamza Phalange base, and had been killed or left to die in his car.

The leading ambulance stopped a short distance from the car containing the dead man, who was slumped onto the passenger seat of the car, and three medics in Red Crescent uniform got out to collect his body.

As they did so, they came under fire from the military building. The first shot struck the ambulance, which sped away leaving the medics to duck for cover as gunfire persisted for about three minutes.

One of the ambulance workers was struck in the forearm by bullet splinters and another was struck in the chin, apparently by splinters from the academy's fence or possibly a bullet fragment. Neither was seriously injured.

Libya is in the grip of an escalating human rights crisis since protests began last month as part of a social network-led "Day of Rage," inspired by similar pro-democracy movements in Egypt and Tunisia.

The deadly crackdown by the government in Tripoli has led to Libya being suspended from the United Nations Human Rights Council and referred to the International Criminal Court, whose chief prosecutor says he is investigating Libyan leader Colonel al-Gaddafi for alleged crimes against humanity.

“Colonel al-Gaddafi must rein in the security forces that remain loyal to him - all those responsible for carrying out attacks on civilians and medical workers must know that they will be held to account,” said Smart.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

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