A prominent Libyan activist and lawyer, Hanan al-Barassi, has been shot dead in the eastern city of Benghazi, as the latest attempt at talks on the country’s political future continues in neighbouring Tunisia.
Al-Barassi, 46, an outspoken critic of abuses in the eastern areas controlled by renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), was killed in her car in broad daylight on 20th Street in the centre of the city.
She had spoken out against cases of alleged rape and assault of women in the city, implicating fighters linked to Gen Haftar.
She also ran a local association for the defence of women’s rights.
Amnesty International said al-Barassi and her daughter had received death threats. It noted that her social media page had said on Monday she planned to release a video exposing alleged corruption within Haftar’s family.
Her murder has sparked an outcry in Libya, with many calls online for justice.
In one of her last videos posted on Facebook hours before her death she criticised the promotion of Haftar’s sons to senior roles in the city.
Barassi’s murder comes 16 months after MP Siham Sergewa was kidnapped from her home by gunmen.
She remains missing and no-one has claimed responsibility for her disappearance.
Sergewa, too, had been a prominent critic of Haftar, particularly of his war against the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord.
Amnesty International denounced Barassi’s killing in a statement on Twitter.
“The assassination of Hanan highlights the risk posed to the lives of women who speak up on political issues in Libya,” it said.
“The LAAF must urgently investigate the assassination of Hanan and bring all those responsible to justice,” said Amnesty, referring to Haftar’s forces.
The US embassy in Tripoli also said it was “gravely concerned” by the killing.
“Silencing the voices of peaceful activists should not be tolerated and we reiterate our strong commitment to allowing all Libyans, including women and youth, to have a voice in their country’s future,” they said in a statement.
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