Smugglers shot, burned bodies of 15 migrants in western Libya, says activist
"We have followed with concern the killing of 15 asylum seekers and irregular migrants of different nationalities," Ahmed Hamza, who heads the independent National Committee for Human Rights in Libya, told Anadolu Agency.
"The victims were killed by a group of outlaws who engaged in smuggling migrants and human trafficking in Sabratha," he added, referring to a coastal city about 70 kilometres west of Tripoli.
The city is a major launching point for the mainly African migrants making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean Sea in hopes of reaching Europe.
Hamza stated that smugglers opened fire on the migrants’ boat on Friday evening, killing everyone on board, before torching the boat with the bodies in it.
He believes the motive was due to a dispute between the smugglers.
The human rights activist held EU countries "legally and humanitarianly responsible for this crime and other crimes against migrants and asylum seekers in Libya" due to their "hostile policies".
A spokesman for Libya’s Red Crescent had said Friday that at least 15 bodies were recovered after a migrant shipwreck off the country's western coast. They were retrieved and transported to a hospital to examine the remains and determine the cause of death.
The cause of the deaths was not immediately clear, nor was it apparent when the fire was started.
Libya, which has been unstable ever since the 2011 revolution and conflict that toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi, has emerged as a major transit point for African and Arab migrants seeking to reach Europe as a way to escape war and poverty.