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Sunday 24 September 2017

Relatives of Irish citizens relieved at move by the UN

Grainne Cunningham

RELATIVES of some Irish citizens who have remained in Libya expressed relief yesterday after Col Muammar Gaddafi declared a ceasefire.

But they said that contacting loved ones in the troubled region remained difficult and was impossible yesterday, with phone and internet connections still down.

The mother of one man, who returned to the north African country over two weeks ago, said she had been unable to speak to her 34-year-old son but was relieved by Gaddafi's ceasefire which came in response to the UN no-fly zone resolution.

The Dublin woman, who does not want to be named for fear of reprisals in Libya, said: "I'm still worried of course but very relieved as well."

She said she was "really scared" by Gaddafi's threats to send his troops into the rebel stronghold of Benghazi and to annihilate opposition fighters without mercy. Both her son and her Libyan husband are in Benghazi. One of her daughters left the city with a grandchild earlier this month and is back in Dublin.

Sceptical

Celebratory gunfire rang out across the rebel-held city of Benghazi on Thursday night after the United Nations Security Council voted to authorise air strikes against Gaddafi's forces.

Dr Ibrihim El Sherif, who has lived in Ireland for the past 25 years, also expressed relief at the step taken by the UN.

However, he remained sceptical of the ceasefire, suggesting the despot was "just playing for time".

A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said consular staff remained in regular contact with the "handful" of Irish citizens remaining in Libya.

Meanwhile, an Irish reporter and three other 'New York Times' journalists who were reported missing while covering the Libya conflict have been found, according to reports.

The four were captured by forces loyal to Gaddafi and were expected to be released last night.

Stephen Farrell, who holds dual Irish and British citizenship, has been kidnapped in conflict zones twice before.

He was first captured in Iraq in 2004. He was held captive for a short time before he negotiated his freedom with his Iraqi captives. He was later kidnapped by the Taliban in September 2009 and was later rescued by British forces.

Irish Independent

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