UNSMIL was unable to determine with certainty which parties to the conflict had caused the other civilian casualties in October. The Libyan National Army (LNA) spokesperson, Ahmed al-Mesmari, denied involvement in airstrikes that caused civilians casualties in Derna on 30 October.
During October, Benghazi witnessed a number of casualties from gunfire in unclear circumstances. For instance, on 4 October, a woman and a 17-year-old boy were injured as a result of stray bullets, respectively, in al-Salmani and Ard Zawawa neighbourhoods, while on 11 October, a man was injured by a stray bullet in al-Majori. In all incidents, there was no active fighting in the vicinity.
On 5 October, clashes between members of al-Warfalla and al-Barassi tribes in al-Majori neighborhood in Benghazi – reportedly due to a family dispute – resulted in the death of one man. On 16 October, two men were killed, including an Egyptian national, and seven others injured when unidentified armed men raided a restaurant in the al-Gewarsha neighborhood. It was reported that, the incident was related to a dispute over a land.
On 11 October, a Qadhafi-era military officer was gunned down inside his car in Wershefana by unknown perpetrators. In a separate incident in Wershefana, unknown gunmen killed a man near his store on 16 October, reportedly in a carjacking attempt.
Three men, believed to have been captured alive by the SDF in al-Ghrarat on 19 October, were later found dead with gunshot wounds.
Between 15 and 24 October, the bodies of two residents from Ajdabiya and members of the Magharba tribe were found in a Benghazi street. Both were seized from Ajdabiya in July by an armed men allied to the LNA. One of the victims was found with his limbs bound and gunshot wounds to his head. The other, who appeared in a video , seen by UNSMIL, following his capture “confessing” to carrying-out terrorist attacks, was found with gunshot wounds to the head and visible signs of torture.
On 26 October, the bodies of 36 men were found in the area of al-Abyar, east of Benghazi. Several bore visible marks of torture and gunshot wounds, and had their hands tied. The General Prosecution based in Tripoli announced investigations, while the LNA’s leadership ordered the General Military Prosecutor in the east to carry out investigations into the incident.
The figures for civilian casualties set out above only include persons killed or injured in the course of hostilities and who were not directly participating in the hostilities. The figures do not include those casualties that are not a direct result of hostilities, for example executions after capture, torture or abductions, or casualties caused as an indirect consequence of hostilities. The figures are based on information UNSMIL has gathered and cross-checked from a broad range of sources in Libya, including human rights defenders, civil society, current and former officials, employees of local governments, community leaders and members, witnesses, others directly affected and media reports. In order to assess the credibility of information obtained, where possible, UNSMIL reviewed documentary information, including medical records, forensic reports and photographic evidence.
The figures are only those that UNSMIL was able to document in the reporting period. They are not likely to be complete and may change as new information emerges about incidents involving civilian casualties that took place during this period.
Similarly, while UNSMIL has systematically tried to ensure that the cases it documented are based on credible information, further verification would be required to attain a higher standard of proof. Due to the security situation, UNSMIL has not been able to carry out direct site visits to all relevant locations in Libya to obtain information. Fear of reprisals against sources further hamper information gathering.
While not all actions leading to civilian casualties breach international humanitarian law, UNSMIL reminds all parties to the conflict that they are under an obligation to target only military objectives. Direct attacks on civilians as well as indiscriminate attacks – which do not distinguish between civilians and fighters – are prohibited. Attacks that are expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects excessive to the anticipated concrete and direct military advantage are also prohibited. Such attacks amount to war crimes that can be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court.
In order to ensure greater protection of the civilian population and essential infrastructure, all parties engaged in fighting in Libya must cease the use of mortars and other indirect weapons and imprecise aerial bombardments in civilian-populated areas, and not place fighters or other military objectives in populated areas. All executions of captives must cease and all those captured including fighters must be treated humanely in all circumstances. Murdering or torturing captives is also a war crime, regardless of what the captive may be accused of.