By Maha Ellawati.
Benghazi, 3 February 2013:
Benghazi’s illegal immigrant detention centre was attacked yesterday evening, Saturday, and its administrative offices torched.
The attack followed the arrest earlier in the day of a local man said to be involved in human trafficking. As yet unnamed, he was reportedly taken to the centre in the city’s Al-Birkah district, near the Ansar Al-Sharia headquarters.
Over 40 armed people stormed the building, freeing both him as well as an unknown number of inmates. The office where passports, documentation and money were kept was also set alight and other property damaged and a car stolen.
The prison is being guarded by a battalion from the Libyan Shield Two forces.
Battalion commander Attia Amari, who runs the illegal immigration combat department, told the Libya Herald today that some of the attackers were dressed in military uniforms, others in civilian clothes.
Some reports say many were relatives of the arrested man.
Amari explained that when the attackers started shooting at the prison, his men did not fire back because weapons were not generally used at the facility. He described it as a civilian facility, not a military one.
It holds mainly African migrants arrested for not having the right papers, he explained. There, with the cooperation with the Libyan Red Crescent, detainees are tested for blood diseases such as hepatitis and HIV, he said. Those who test positive are immediately deported.
“In the last few days we have deported about 56 illegal immigrants back to Egypt,” Amari said. “They were all infected with some sort of a disease,” he stated.
He added: “Just today, the navy handed over to us some 39 illegal immigrants. They’ll be medically tested and those found infected with a disease will be deported.”