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Libyan woman dragged away after desparate plea claiming abuse by Gaddafi men

posted 26 Mar 2011, 07:44 by Mpelembe   [ updated 26 Mar 2011, 07:47 ]

A Libyan woman makes a anguished plea for help at a Tripoli hotel full of foreign journalists, claiming abuse by Gaddafi militiamen, before she is bundled away by security guards.

TRIPOLI, LIBYA (MARCH 26, 2011) TF1 - 
A weeping Libyan woman made a desperate plea for help on Saturday (March 26), slipping into a Tripoli hotel full of foreign journalists to show bruises and scars she said had been inflicted on her by Muammar Gaddafi's militiamen.

As reporters gathered to hear her story, security guards grabbed the woman, bundled her into a car and drove her away following a brawl in which several journalists were hit.

The woman, Eman al-Obaidi, said she was arrested at a checkpoint in Tripoli because she is from the city of Benghazi, the bastion of the rebel insurgency against Gaddafi's rule.

Her face was heavily bruised and her upper right thigh had blood on it.

She said she had been raped by 15 men and held for two days at the checkpoint.

Her story could not be independently verified. It was unclear whether she had escaped or had been released.

Tripoli is Gaddafi's biggest stronghold, full of loyal militiamen who crack down on any form of dissent as Gaddafi's troops battle rebel forces in other parts of the country.

International human rights groups say Gaddafi loyalists have been enforcing their rule by arresting thousands of people. Libyan officials say they only arrest people linked to armed gangs or al Qaeda militants.

One of the government minders attached to foreign journalists said the woman was drunk.

As she spoke, crying and shaking, hotel staff and plainclothes security men tried to push and intimidate her. She ran from one table to another in the hotel restaurant.

In the ensuing scuffle, one hotel staff member grabbed a table knife and yelled that she was a traitor.

A man in civilian clothes took out a gun. A foreign journalist who was trying to get away from the scene with a camera on which he had recorded footage of the scuffle was thrown to the ground and kicked.

Obaidi was eventually forced into a garden outside the hotel. Journalists trying to get to her were pushed away.

She was then dragged to a parking lot and bundled into a white car. Security men said they were taking her to hospital.

She said she was being taken to jail, as she tried to resist the security guards.