Helicopter shot down in Libya, at least nine dead

Libyan helicopter shot down, at least nine dead, including senior Tripoli officers

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Ruined buildings in Libyan city of Benghazi, four years after Gaddafi’s fall fighting continues

Updated Oct 28, 2015

A helicopter carrying 19 people was downed off the Libyan coast on Tuesday leaving at least nine dead, a military official said.

Colonel Mustafa Sharkasi, a spokesman for the air force of Libya's Tripoli-based government said that the helicopter was shot just before midday and crashed near the Al Maya area, just west of Tripoli.

"We have so far recovered nine bodies, including the body of Colonel Hussein Abu Diyya," a senior officer in the powerful Fajr Libya militia that controls the capital, Sharkasi said.

Three other crew members and employees, including bank personnel - who were carrying money for a bank were also onboard.

"We think that all the passengers are dead," Sharkasi said.

According to Sharkasi the aircraft was "unarmed" and accused armed groups allied to the internationally recognised government for carrying out this "criminal" act.

He promised that the Tripoli-based government would take revenge over the attack.

"We firmly condemn the incident and of course, we accuse elements of the so-called tribal army of Gaddafi's followers. We will respond strongly at the right time and place," Sharkasi said in a statement, referring to the Washafana fighters.

Sharkasi said that the aircraft was on its way to Tripoli from an undefined region when it was shot.

After former strongman Muammar Gaddafi was toppled and subsequently killed in October 2011, Libya has fallen into chaos and has not built a national army yet. 

Brigades of rebels have been put on the state payroll as security forces. But they often remain more loyal to their cities or regions, and have steadily turned again against one another and allied with rival political forces in a battle for control, Reuters reported.

The country is currently divided between the control of two rival parliaments, the GNC in the capital Tripoli and the House of Representatives, operating from the eastern city of Tobruk, each backed by their own militias for power as well as number of groups fighting for control of its main resource wealth.

TRTWorld and agencies