Libya: Haftar forces arrest dozens in Derna following prison break

Libya: Haftar forces arrest dozens in Derna following prison break
After five inmates broke out of a notorious detention centre in Derna, militias loyal to Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar arrested dozens of their family members in retribution
2 min read
21 January, 2022
Derna has been under the control of militias loyal to Khalifa Haftar since 2019 [Getty File Image]

Libyan authorities loyal to rogue general Khalifa Haftar arrested dozens of Derna residents this week following the escape of five prisoners from the infamous Ghirnata prison on Libya’s eastern coast, according to local media outlets.

The Tareq Ben Ziyad brigade, a local militia loyal to Haftar's self-styled "Libyan National Army" and the Awliya al-Dam milita targeted escapees' family members and close associates following the prison break, arresting dozens.

According to Libyan media outlet Kawalees, militias have threatened further detention campaigns as retribution if escape attempts continue from the notorious detention centre continue.

Derna has been controlled by Haftar-affiliated militia groups since they defeated the Shura Council of Mujahideen in Derna militia in early 2019, after an 8 month armed siege.

Different forces have been vying for control of the city since Islamic State affiliated militants established a breakaway mini-caliphate in the city in October 2014. 

Conditions in Ghirnata 

The Ghirnata prison holds over 2,000 inmates in conditions that have been criticised by human rights groups and local residents for years. The majority of detainees are being held without charge, with many awaiting trial after being charged with belonging to the IS group.

Speaking to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the Mayor of Derna said that the Ghirnata prison falls outside municipal jurisdiction and is solely under the control of Haftar’s forces, who are regularly accused of torturing those held in arbitrary detention.