Libya Demands Security Council Meeting as U.S. Evacuates POWs
N’DJAMENA, Chad (AP) _ The U.S. Embassy said today it was evacuating Libyan prisoners of war from Chad as part of an ″international effort,″ but Libya called the move piracy and asked for an emergency Security Council meeting.
The embassy refused to comment on reports that the United States had trained the POWs for commando operations against Libya.
The Libyans were captured by Chad in fighting between 1983 and 1987 by soldiers of former President Hissene Habre, who was toppled one week ago.
Habre went into exile in Cameroon, and rebel leader Idriss Deby was named interim president. Deby, whose movement received much of its weaponry from Libya, is freeing the Libyan POWS.
The evacuation effort apparently started on Friday, when a plane carrying 200 Libyan POWs left for Nigeria, according to news reports.
U.S. Embassy spokesman Mark Krischik said the evacuations were ″part of an international effort,″ but he declined to say whether the government of Deby or French soldiers based there were participating.
″I can confirm that we are continuing our humanitarian gesture to provide transportation out of Chad for those unwilling to return to Libya,″ he said.
Agence France-Presse, the French news agency, reported that 500 more Libyan POWs were to be evacuated today to Nigeria, then to a third country. It cited an unidentified American source for its information.
Krischik refused to comment on the freed POWs’ destination.
Barbara Shell, a spokeswoman at the U.S. Embassy in Chad, refused to comment on an AFP report that the United States had trained about 700 of the 2,000 POWs for commando operations against Libya.
The Libyan Foreign Ministry, in a communique, charged that the United States on Friday seized 200 Libyan POWs in Chad and took them away ″against their will″ aboard a C-141 Air Force plane. It called the move ″international piracy″ equivalent to ″state-sponsored terrorism.″
Libya’s official JANA news agency charged that 17 Libyans were executed for refusing the U.S. evacuation.
JANA, citing diplomatic and media sources in Chad, alleged that POWs refusing ″to obey America’s orders are being massacred daily at a rate of three prisoners every hour before the very eyes of French troops and the U.S. military personnel present in Chad.″
The Libya communique, carried by JANA and monitored in Rome, accused the United States of a ″grave violation of international conventions and laws.″
″The U.S. has launched an aggression against Great Al Jamahiriya (Libya) representing a dangerous precedent unsurpassed in history,″ the statement said.
Libya ″demands an emergency session of the Security Council to discuss the piracy act pursued by the U.S.,″ it said.
The State Department in Washington would not comment on the report of commando training and said it had heard nothing about Libya’s request for a U.N. meeting.
JANA later reported Libya was sending its foreign minister, Ibrahim Muhammed al-Bishari, to Nigeria in an effort to get the Libyans back. It did not say when he would depart.
The Libyan communique urged the International Red Cross and human rights groups to condemn the action and ″make every endeavor to release the prisoners taken as hostages, apart from saving the lives of those facing the same fate.″
After Habre’s ouster, a delegation of Libyan officials flew to Chad and arranged for the bulk of the Libyan POWs to return to Libya. The delegation also reportedly sought to obtain custody of Libyans who had turned against their nation’s leader, Col. Moammar Gadhafi.