By Maha Ellawati.
Benghazi, 9 July 2016:
Tariq Al-Saiti was celebrated in Benghazi, not simply because he was a highly-innovative and successful mine-clearance expert but because of his distinctive dreadlocks and engaging personality.
Two weeks ago Saiti, who normally did his dangerous work with nothing more sophisticated than a screw driver and a pair of wire cutters, completed a mine-clearance course in the UAE. He had the option to stay on for a while but he insisted on returning to his city.
It was there, in a building in the Sabri district that he died tonight when trying to deal with a booby trap. Saiti, a member of the Interior Ministry’s CID mine-clearance team was in his early 30s and married with two young daughters.
Less than two months ago, he was hospitalised with injuries from a mine that blew up the back of his truck. But he insisted on returning to duty.
This evening a Libyan photographer, Osama Alfitory, tweeted that last night he had phoned Saiti and asked if he could shoot him dismantling mines. Saiti had replied that unfortunately he was going today to the front line where the fighting was serious. “It won’t look good if I go there with a cameraman following me and the most important reason is that I do not want to risk your life. But I promise you we will go tomorrow to another front line”.
His death, coming only three days after air force ace Major Idris Hamed Al-Obeidi perished in his Mig-23 in Ganfouda, appears to have dampened the mood in a city where once again there seems to have been little to celebrate at the Eid holiday.
One resident told this newspaper: “There are still road blocks everywhere. There is no where to go. Life seems to be slipping away from us all. Again and again we have been promised the terrorists will be defeated ‘within a month’. And yet it still goes on. We are losing confidence”.
This story has been updated to include Osama Alfitory’s comments.