Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Libya: Son of Benghazi's Special Forces head kidnapped

Ali Bukhamada

Ali Ouanis Bukhamada, the son of the head of Special Forces in Benghazi, Ouanis Bukhamada, was kidnapped last week from outside a restaurant behind Benghazi University. Two cars blocked the young man’s way and unknown men forced him inside one of the vehicles and drove him away.

It is not clear exactly who took the young Bukhamada but it is widely believed to be the work of an Islamist militia or group operating in the country’s second city. The Special Forces chief declared, “This is an attempt to blackmail me or to pressurise me so as to hinder us from imposing security and stability.”

According to some rumours, Ali Ouanis Bukhamada’s kidnappers demanded that Special Forces pull out of the Islamist-dominated Qawarsha neighbourhood in return for the young man’s release. Bukhamada denied these rumours and asserted, “I don’t have any forces in Qawarsha. I don’t know what they want. Let them tell us and I am quite open to them.” Other reports circulating on the internet and on social networking sites have claimed that the young man has already been killed by his abductors.

Ali Ouanis’s abduction was followed by a number of clashes between Special Forces and militant groups. One such clash occurred at a farm in Qawarsha, located on the western outskirts of Benghazi, where armed gunmen had holed themselves up and had opened fire on a helicopter engaged in a combing operation. Special Forces troops moved in on the farm, putting the area under siege and closing all the main roads that lead to it. The ensuing clashes left one soldier dead and four others injured.

In a show of support, Justice Minister Salah Al-Marghani flew to Benghazi after Ali Ouanis’s kidnap to meet his father. There is, however, little hope that the young man’s captors will be brought to justice. Going by what has happened to other kidnap victims in the city, there is limited hope too that Bukhamada will be found alive.

For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focus and Libya Politics & Security. 

© 2014 Menas Associates

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