Libyan security authorities have escalated a violent crackdown on migrants in the country, resulting in the detention of thousands and the death of at least six, according to aid organizations.
The migrants were shot dead after several hundred fled a major detention centre in the capital Tripoli on Friday, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said on Sunday.
They were among “thousands the Libyan authorities detained a week ago in an unprecedented crackdown, doubling the total number of migrants and refugees in detention to about 10,000 people in a week,” the group added in a statement.
Online footage on Friday appeared to show hundreds of migrants fleeing from a detention centre in the area of Ghut al-Shaal in Tripoli.
The United Nations migration agency also said six migrants were killed and at least 24 others were injured in the shootings by armed guards at the Mabani detention centre following the escape attempt.
Before the alleged shootings, more than 3,400 migrants were detained in the overcrowded facility, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) added.
The Libyan Interior Ministry Saturday said only one migrant was killed and several others, including police personnel, were injured in a stampede during the escape attempt.
“The matter prompted the police’s intervention to bring the situation under control. The security operation was conducted with all professionalism and without the use of excessive force,” the ministry added in a statement.
Libya has become a major transit route for migrants trying to reach Europe by sea since chaos erupted in the North African country after the 2011 revolt that toppled long-time dictator Moamer Gaddafi.