Thursday, April 25, 2024

Bangladeshis caught in troubled Libya

Around 450 workers held ‘hostage’ by anti-govt demonstrators; 15 hurt in attack on construction site
At least 15 Bangladeshi workers were injured as rioters stormed a South Korean construction site about 30 kilometres west of Tripoli while around 450 others were reportedly taken hostage in the port city of Darnah.
The raid on the worksite also left three South Korean injured, Baik Joo-hyeon, an official of Seoul’s foreign ministry, has said.
Two of the Bangladeshis suffered severe stab wounds in the attack, one of a series ringing alarm for 50,000 Bangladeshis living in the African oil-rich country.
According to Seoul-based news agency Yonhap, the rampage started around Bangladeshi time 3:00am and ended 9:00am. Some 1,600 Bangladeshis and 40 to 50 South Koreans were working at the site.
The Seoul’s foreign ministry told news agency AFP the Libyans also looted the construction site.
“Computers and some heavy machinery were stolen but we do not know how much the damage will cost at the moment,” said Baik Joo-Hyeon.
“We don’t know if this is directly related to the civil unrest in the country,” he said of the attack.
Shafiuddin Biswas, a Bangladeshi worker in the port city of Darnah, east of Benghazi, told BBC Bangla Radio that there are around 450 Bangladeshis among around 2,000 workers taken “hostage” by armed men.
The workers who used to work for a South Korean company came from Bangladesh, Vietnam, Nepal, Thailand, Philippines and Ghana, he said.
Shafiuddin said the hostage takers herded the workers into different buildings from the company’s worksite three days ago and their demand is not clear.
A small group — mostly armed — is always keeping an eye on the workers.
“Here we have no food, no toilet,” Shafiuddin said. “Law and order has totally collapsed. Police are not working here.”
Bangladesh Ambassador ABM Nuruzzaman, however, said they have no authentic reports of any casualties in Benghazi or Tripoli or any group holding Bangladeshi workers hostage in any part of Libya.
The diplomat said there is a sense of uncertainty about food and jobs of not only Bangladeshis, but also of other nationals working in the African country.
Talking to The Daily Star over the phone, Nuruzzaman said the embassy has already opened a control room to monitor the situation and asking the companies to ensure the workers’ safety.
He said they were facing problems in contacting both in and outside Tripoli, as Internet and fax services were closed.
About reported holding of Bangladeshis, a foreign ministry spokesman in Dhaka yesterday said they have not received any confirmation, reported BSS.
“We have contacted the Bangladesh ambassador to Libya and he said he was not informed about such incident or any casualty of Bangladeshis in the African country,” he added.
“We have alerted the Bangladeshi nationals living in those countries to move cautiously against the backdrop of the movement,” he added.
Zafar Ahmed Khan, the expatriates’ welfare secretary, said the ministry instructed the Bangladesh embassy in Tripoli to take every measure to ensure safety of the Bangladeshi nationals.
Libya is witnessing a protest against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s rule since February 16. The violence that left an unknown number of people dead and injured spread to the capital city of Tripoli on February 20.

 

Via: The Daily Star

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