Libyan Footballer Kidnapped in Tripoli


A group of gunmen kidnapped Mohamed Zaabiya, a striker for the Al-Ittihad and the Libyan national football teams on Thursday in Tripoli.

The 34-year-old footballer suffered a severe injury in his left foot, and underwent surgery in February. He is currently undergoing physical therapy, and still relies on crutches to move.

His family does not yet know the kidnappers’ demands for his release. They appealed to the government to intervene urgently to free him.

They confirmed that they had lost contact with him on Thursday, and do not know his whereabouts.

Zaabiya played for several teams, most notably Al-Arabi of Qatar, Algeria’s JS Kabylie, Mouloudia Oran, and Tunisia’s Esperance.

In turn, the Head of the National Human Rights Committee in Libya (NHRLC), Ahmed Hamza called for the immediate release of Zaabiya.

“We call on the Libyan authority to release him without any delay, and not to repeat these outrageous incidents and practices,” Hamza said.

He pointed out that the absence of Zaabiya is “unacceptable in any way, especially since he is a public figure.”

Libya has sought to emerge from a decade of chaos since the 2011 fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

A transitional government was formed two years ago under the auspices of the UN. It was tasked with leading the country to elections scheduled for 24 December 2021. These were delayed indefinitely.

Despite political progress in recent months, the security situation in the oil-rich country remains precarious.

Notably, the UN Independent Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) to Libya expressed its deep concerns over the country’s deteriorating human rights situation.

In its final report, the Mission stated that “there are grounds to believe a wide array of war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed by state security forces and armed militia groups.”

It noted that investigations “documented numerous cases of arbitrary detention, murder, rape, enslavement, extrajudicial killing, and enforced disappearance.”

Mohamed Auajjar, the Mission’s chair said that “there is an urgent need for accountability to end this pervasive impunity.”

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