Libyan detention centre guards kill six migrants amid crackdown

Guards at a Libyan detention centre have shot dead six migrants, the United Nations agency for migration said, amid an ongoing violent crackdown against refugees and asylum seekers.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Friday said overcrowding at the Ghot Shaal detention centre in Tripoli had led to chaos at the facility.

The UN agency’s Libya chief Federico Soda said “shooting broke out and six migrants were killed in total. They were shot by the guards.”

Videos posted on social media showed dozens of people pouring through a gap in a fence and larger numbers marching through Tripoli streets.

Al Jazeera’s Malik Traina said an official in the Ministry of Interior would not confirm whether the detainees had been released or had escaped from the facility.

“He was very careful not to answer,” Traina said. “We might see Libyan authorities in the next days saying that they released these people due to a lack of resources.”

Libyan security forces have detained more than 5,000 migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, mostly from Sub-Saharan Africa, over the past week.

The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said they were housed in crowded, unsanitary detention centres.

Of those detained, 215 are children and more than 540 women, at least 30 of whom were pregnant, according to estimates by IOM.

Authorities described the roundup as a security campaign against undocumented migration and drug trafficking, but the Interior Ministry, which led the crackdown, made no mention of traffickers or smugglers being arrested.

Amnesty International has called on Libyan authorities to charge anyone who committed a crime, while releasing those who are innocent, such as children.

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