NGO: Libyan Coast Guard threatened to shoot down plane

Oct 26, 2022, 7:21 AM | Updated: 10:52 am
In this handout photo released by German non-governmental organization Sea-Watch on Tuesday, Oct. 2...

In this handout photo released by German non-governmental organization Sea-Watch on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022, migrants sit on the deck of a Libyan coast guard ship after being intercepted while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea on a rubber boat to Europe. (Fiona Alihosi/Sea-Watch via AP)

(Fiona Alihosi/Sea-Watch via AP)

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — The German non-governmental organization Sea-Watch on Wednesday accused the Libyan coast guard of threatening to shoot down their monitoring plane that helps the group document the interception of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea.

According to an audio recording of the threats, the Libyan coast guard vessel allegedly ordered the NGO plane to “get out of Libyan territorial” waters despite being in international waters where Malta is responsible for coordinating search and rescue operations. The incident occurred Tuesday.

“Please be informed that you are within European Search And Rescue Area, this is not Libyan territorial waters. This is not Libyan territorial waters, over,” a member of the Sea-Watch crew flying overhead responded to the Libyan authorities via radio.

“Get away from Libyan territorial otherwise we’ll shoot you by SAM missiles,” the Libyan Coast Guard vessel allegedly responds back, referring to the acronym for surface-to-air missiles.

The Libyans ultimately pulled dozens of migrants onto their vessel and proceeded to shoot the rubber boat with what appeared to be incendiary ammunition, setting it on fire, according to footage of the interception released by Sea-Watch.

A spokesman for the Libyan coast guard did not immediately answer phone calls and messages seeking comment. Maltese authorities have also not yet responded to questions sent by AP via phone and email.

It is not the first time European NGOs operating in the Mediterranean reported threats or violent behavior by the Libyan Coast Guard. Last year, the European Union-funded and trained Libyan coast guard was caught on camera chasing and shooting in the direction of a migrant boat.

But Sea-Watch says this is the first time that their plane, the Seabird, was targeted.

“Especially for the crew this was really scary,” said Felix Weiss, a spokesperson for Sea-Watch’s airborne operations. Weiss said Tuesday’s incident is making them reassess the risks with flying over the Central Mediterranean to document human rights violations.

Although Weiss said it’s unlikely Libyan authorities would follow through on their threats to bring down the plane, their behavior has become increasingly unpredictable and aggressive. “The so-called Libyan coast guard are carrying AK-47s with them and they have already used them several times,” Weiss said.

The Central Mediterranean is known as the deadliest migration route in the world with nearly 3,000 deaths since January 2021 according to the International Organization for Migration.

The EU, Italy and Malta have for years been criticized for outsourcing migrant interceptions and rescues to the war-torn country.

Upon their return to Libya, migrants and refugees are held in government-run detention centers where torture, rape and killings have been documented extensively. A U.N. fact-finding mission has found that the systemic abuse of migrants there may amount to crimes against humanity.

___

Follow AP’s coverage of migration issues at https://apnews.com/hub/migration

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Family says coyote attacked toddler outside LA home

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A coyote ambushed and injured a 2-year old girl outside her Los Angeles home in a daytime attack before her father chased the animal off, her family said. Home security video obtained by KTLA-TV shows the animal grab and drag the toddler across her lawn and sidewalk, just seconds after her […]
18 hours ago
FILE -  Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz, speaks during a press conference at the American University of Beir...
Associated Press

Longtime Arizona GOP Rep. Jim Kolbe dies at 80

PHOENIX (AP) — Jim Kolbe, a Republican congressman who represented a heavily Democratic region of Arizona for more than two decades and was a proponent of gay rights, has died. He was 80. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said in a statement that Kolbe died Saturday. Ducey ordered flags lowered until sunset Sunday. Kolbe served in […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

Fan buying famed ‘Goonies’ house in Oregon, listed for $1.7M

ASTORIA, Ore. (AP) — The listing agent for the Victorian home featured in the “The Goonies” film in Astoria, Oregon, said this week the likely new owner is a fan of the classic coming-of-age movie about friendships and treasure hunting, and he promises to preserve and protect the landmark. The 1896 home with sweeping views […]
18 hours ago
New Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna is sworn in by the Honorable Samantha Jersey, Presiding ...
Associated Press

New LA sheriff vows accountability, integrity for department

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The new head of the nation’s largest sheriff’s department vowed Saturday to usher in an era of integrity and collaboration after his predecessor’s tenure was marked by clashes with other public officials and allegations that ganglike groups of deputies ran amok within the agency. Robert Luna took an oath of office […]
18 hours ago
A a fan waits for the start of the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between the Netherlands and t...
Associated Press

American fans captivated by US team’s World Cup run

AL RAYYAN, Qatar (AP) — The bald man came dressed head-to-toe in full American spirit. A red, white and blue bandana, stars and stripes mismatched socks, shorts that might have been swimming trunks suited for a summer barbeque. Philip Labas wore an outfit bursting with pride for the United States men’s soccer team Saturday as […]
18 hours ago
FILE - Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks during a briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, Nov. ...
Associated Press

Pentagon chief: US faces pivotal years in countering China

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (AP) — The U.S. is at a pivotal point with China and will need military strength to ensure that American values, not Beijing’s, set global norms in the 21st century, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Saturday. Austin’s speech at the Reagan National Defense Forum capped a week in which the Pentagon was […]
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
NGO: Libyan Coast Guard threatened to shoot down plane