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ICC prosecutor condemns Benghazi mosque attack

By AFP - Jan 27,2018 - Last updated at Jan 27,2018

Libyans stand near a pool of blood and water as they check the aftermath of an explosion in the eastern city of Benghazi, on Wednesday (AFP photo)

THE HAGUE — The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Friday condemned a deadly attack on a Benghazi mosque which left at least 37 dead, and renewed calls for the arrest of a wanted Libyan commander.

"These bombings and executions demand both condemnation and a meaningful response,” chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement.

At least 37 people died and scores were wounded after Tuesday's two car bombings outside a mosque frequented by extremists in Libya's second city Benghazi.

The attack was followed by video and photographs on social networks on Wednesday, appearing to show wanted Libyan commander Mahmoud Al Werfalli carrying out summary executions in retaliation.

Bensouda said she was "deeply concerned" by the bombings, but also "appalled" at the reports of the executions of 10 people in front of the mosques.

Witnesses said Werfalli, who is wanted for war crimes by the ICC, had carried out the public executions in revenge for the Tuesday mosque attack.

In one video, a uniformed officer, said to be Werfalli, is seen making the blindfolded suspects in blue prison uniforms kneel in front of him before shooting them one after the other in the head.

The ICC has issued an arrest warrant for Werfalli, accusing him of participating in seven similar incidents between 2016 and 2017 in which 33 people were executed.

The UN Support Mission in Libya has also demanded Werfalli's immediate surrender to the ICC in The Hague.

Bensouda also appealed to military strongman Khalifa Haftar, whose forces control eastern Benghazi and to whom Werfalli is loyal, to work with the Libyan army to arrest the wanted commander.

"The appalling cycle of violence and impunity in Libya can not be allowed to continue for the sake of the Libyan people," she added.

The ICC, is the world's only permanent war crimes court, seeking to prosecute those behind the worst atrocities where national courts can not or will not investigate.

The latest violence in Libya came as UN envoy Ghassan Salame held talks in the east with Haftar in efforts to end the political chaos that has gripped the country since longtime dictator Muammar Qadhafi was ousted and killed in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011.

 

A UN-backed unity government based in the capital Tripoli has struggled to assert its authority outside western Libya. Haftar supports a rival administration based in the east.

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