By Libya Herald reporters.
Benghazi, 1 January 2017:
Terrorists were stopping “hostages” escaping from the besieged Benghazi enclave of Ganfouda, the Libyan National Army insisted today.
LNA spokesman Ahmed Mismari said today that for the last two weeks troops had maintained two no-fire zones to the east and west of Ganfouda to allow civilians, whom he described as “hostages” to flee. However none had done so.
He repeated reports that women and children could be heard in buildings now on the frontline. He added that the LNA had an hostage evacuation plan and were about to put it into effect.
“Unfortunately these routes have been blocked by the terrorist groups” said Mismari, “They refuse to let them go and want to use them to help them to escape from the area. That is why they have asked several times to evacuate the families by sea without our supervision so they can escape with them. And this is something we will not accept”.
The spokesman said that as they lost control of Benghazi, the terrorists had moved civilians along with captured LNA troops and already jailed members of the Qaddafi regime, into Ganfouda. He did not specify the numbers involved.
Mismari also said that it was no longer certain what foodstuffs both the civilians and terrorists had left to eat, after troops took over large stocks of “food, commodities and medicines” in their rapid advance early in December.
Mismari gave no details of fighting around Ganfouda. However social media footage posted by a soldier suggested some troops are becoming bored. The clip showed a pair of tracked armoured personnel carriers belonging to the 210 Infantry Battalion being “drifted” at speed in the main Customs Service compound in Ganfouda. Shooting up dust and belching black exhaust smoke, one of the APC did a 180 degree “half-donut” skidding to a halt neatly alongside one of the TEU containers.