Forces loyal to Libyan Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi are once again targeting civilians in Misratah by firing rockets, some containing ball bearings, into the city’s residential areas, Amnesty International said today.
At least three civilians, a 14-year-old boy and two women were killed and several others, including children, were injured in recent days when “Grad” rockets struck their homes in the port city’s residential neighbourhoods.
These rockets are indiscriminate weapons which cannot be directed at a particular target and their use may amount to war crimes.
“Families in Misratah are once again living in fear of being killed as rockets rain down on their homes and it’s impossible for the terrified residents to find safe shelter,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser.
Fourteen-year-old Ibrahim ‘Ali Boushiba was killed and his mother, father and 12-year-old brother Faraj were injured on 20 June when several rockets struck their home in the Rweissat neighbourhood. Images of the rockets’ remains examined by Amnesty International show that it had been packed with ball bearings to maximize injuries.
On 17 June, Halima ‘Omar Dabbur, a 46-year-old mother of eight, was killed and her nine-year-old daughter Nada was injured by a rocket strike on their home, in the Zarrouq neighbourhood. Three days earlier, another rocket struck a nearby house, injuring her five-year-old nephew, ‘Omar, and her seven-year-old niece, Fatma.
Mabrouka Yusef Musa, a 55-year-old mother of seven, was also killed and her husband injured in two recent rocket strikes on and near their home in the same neighbourhood.
Amnesty International is receiving more reports of casualties from other rocket attacks but with telephone and internet connections to Misratah still cut off, it is very difficult to obtain and verify information.
Misratah, the only opposition-held major city in western Libya, suffered weeks of relentless and indiscriminate shelling by al-Gaddafi forces in April and early May. Scores of Misratah residents and several African migrants were killed and many other people were injured in the attacks.
“Such attacks much cease immediately. Colonel al-Gaddafi and those around him and in his armed forces responsible for ordering and launching indiscriminate rocket attacks on Misratah’s residential neighbourhoods know full well that the victims will be civilians not involved in the conflict,” said Donatella Rovera.
“They must realize that their actions may result in their being made to answer one day to the most serious of charges, of having perpetrated war crimes and crimes against humanity.”