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Libyan government says taking woman's rape claims seriously

posted 26 Mar 2011, 14:25 by Mpelembe   [ updated 26 Mar 2011, 14:26 ]

A Libyan government spokesman says the claims of a woman who said she had been raped by Gaddafi militiamen are being taken seriously. The spokesman also says a government troop withdrawal from a strategically key town in the east of the country, subsequently seized by rebels, is part of its commitment to keeping a ceasefire.

The Libyan government said on Saturday evening (March 26), that it was treating the case of a Libyan woman who said she was gang-raped by Gaddafi militiamen as a criminal one.

Eman al-Obaidi slipped into a Tripoli hotel earlier on Saturday to claim to foreign journalists she had been raped several times by the militiamen while being held at a checkpoint at the city.

As she was giving her account, she was bundled out by security guards in a state of distress, amid scuffles with the journalists.

Ibrahim, who had said at an earlier news conference that investigators had told him Obaidi had been drunk and possibly mentally ill, said she was safe and her claims were being taken seriously.

"Her name is Eman al-Obaidi. She resides in Tripoli. She is basically safe and well with the criminal investigation bureau, who are investigating her claims. As far as we know, so far, we know that she is a sane person and she is in good health. She has serious claims about four or five individuals. These claims are being investigated. We believe it is not a political case whatsoever, is a criminal case," Ibrahim told the news conference.

The government spokesman also said that Gaddafi's forces had retreated from the strategically key eastern town of Ajdabiyah as part of its commitment to a ceasefire.

Ibrahim told reporters, despite their withdrawal from eastern areas, army units were coming under heavy fire from coalition air power, enforcing a U.N.-mandated no-fly zone.

Libyan rebels, backed by allied air strikes, retook Ajdabiyah on Saturday after an all-night battle that suggested the tide is turning against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces in the east.