NGO: Libyan Coast Guard threatened to shoot down plane

Oct 25, 2022, 7:21 PM | Updated: Oct 26, 2022, 10:38 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

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., accompanied by Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N...
Mary Clare Jalonick, Associated Press

Bill protecting same-sex, interracial unions clears Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House gave final approval Thursday to legislation protecting same-sex marriages, a monumental step in a decadeslong battle for nationwide recognition that reflects a stark turnaround in societal attitudes. President Joe Biden has said he will promptly sign the measure, which requires all states to recognize same-sex marriages. It is a relief […]
22 hours ago
FILE - This combo of photos provided by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office in Minnesota, show Tou...
Associated Press

Cop who held Floyd’s torso to be sentenced for manslaughter

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The former Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on George Floyd’s back while another officer kneeled on the Black man’s neck is expected to be sentenced Friday to 3 1/2 years in prison for manslaughter. J. Alexander Kueng pleaded guilty in October to a state count of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. The […]
22 hours ago
Associated Press

Thursday’s Scores

BOYS PREP BASKETBALL= Bremerton 67, Sequim 60 Lynden 52, Lakewood 23 Stanwood 78, Cascade (Everett) 33 Grant County Tournament= Renton 92, McDaniel, Ore. 52 ___ Some high school basketball scores provided by Scorestream.com, https://scorestream.com/ Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
22 hours ago
Associated Press

Thursday’s Scores

GIRLS PREP BASKETBALL= DeSales 50, Touchet 23 Emerald Ridge 53, Bellarmine Prep 52 Mark Morris 51, Ridgefield 46 POSTPONEMENTS AND CANCELLATIONS= Bickleton vs. Elkton, Ore., ccd. ___ Some high school basketball scores provided by Scorestream.com, https://scorestream.com/ Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
22 hours ago
A riot police grabs hold of a supporter of ousted President Pedro Castillo outside the police stati...
Associated Press

AP Week in Pictures: Latin America and Caribbean

Dec. 2-8, 2022 This photo gallery highlights some of the most compelling images made or published by Associated Press photographers in Latin America and the Caribbean. It was curated by AP photo editor Anita Baca in Mexico City. Follow AP visual journalism: Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/apnews AP Images on Twitter: http://twitter.com/AP_Images AP Images blog: http://apimagesblog.com Copyright © […]
22 hours ago
Single mother Tania Herrera holds her 20-day-old daughter Sara Milena as she breastfeeds her in the...
Associated Press

Chronic malnutrition stalks many poor children in Ecuador

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Sara Milena is barely 20 days old. Her mother, Tania Herrera, lives with her parents, who are the breadwinners of an Ecuadorian household where they earn $5 to $7 a day to feed five adults and support the new arrival. That income is stretched in hopes of feeding the adults twice […]
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
NGO: Libyan Coast Guard threatened to shoot down plane