Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Knife-wielding Libyan mob attacks Western journalists

The vehicle was stuck in a traffic queue in the town of Zuara, sixty miles west of Tripoli, when it was stormed by a crowd of about 50 civilians apparently angered about growing petrol shortages.

Only the intervention of Libyan security forces saved the journalists from being injured or killed.

Guy Desmond, a reporter for the Reuters news agency who was on board, said: "We were stopped opposite a petrol queue and the people in the queue were obviously tired and agitated. One guy came and kicked in the door of the bus, saying we'd been filming. Then a crowd of about fifty people tried to get on board. They wanted to drag us out. A soldier with an AK47 from a nearby checkpoint jumped in through the driver's door and tried to hold them back."

About six of the angry crowd, some armed with knives, managed to get past the soldier and on to the vehicle. "A guy with a knife came towards me and was stopped by the soldier. The government minder with us tried quite courageously to put himself between us and the crowd. He was punched and slapped," said Mr Desmond.

One of the men with the knives then got off and used his weapon to slash the tyres of the vehicle, meaning it could not drive. The crowd then tried to smash the windows of the bus and make a fresh attempt to drag out the journalists.