Frenchman dies after shooting in Libya's Benghazi

12th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

The French government said Thursday a Frenchman was shot and fatally wounded in the Libyan rebel stronghold of Benghazi and that four others had been arrested by police in the same incident.

"During a police check in Benghazi last night, five French nationals were detained," foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said on Thursday evening.

"One of them was wounded by a bullet and died overnight in a hospital in Benghazi" while the other four remain in detention, he added, confirming a report by a doctor at the hospital.

Valero did not specify whether the man was shot by police or by someone else, and there was no information on why the people were arrested of what led to the shooting.

He added that the French representative in Benghazi had asked to see those who were in custody and was in contact with local authorities to review their situation.

Earlier, a medic said efforts to save the man's life at Jalaa hospital were fruitless.

"Around 2 am (2400 GMT Wednesday) a French citizen wounded by bullets in the abdomen was brought to us. We tried to revive him several times ... but he died," Dr Shawg Najem said at Jalaa hospital.

A security officer told AFP that the Frenchman, who had been brought to the hospital by rebels, was already dead when he arrived.

Mahmud Enbeg said rebels had found him lying face down in Hawari Street, near a cement factory.

"He had $400 and his French passport," said Enbeg, who added that the Frenchman was 49 years old but did not identify him by name.

Neither European sources nor rebel officials were immediately able to provide any details on the incident, which was the first violence of its kind in Benghazi.

AFP journalists went to the area where the Frenchman was reportedly shot Wednesday night.

A local internet cafe owner said three Frenchmen came in most evenings to check email and some shopkeepers believed the men were based in a village in the posh western outskirts of Benghazi.

"Three Frenchmen came in here most evenings to use the Internet," said the owner, adding that he had not been able to engage in conversation with them as they did not speak Arabic nor he French.

Former French soldiers are working in Benghazi as private security officers. Rumours were circulating all day on Thursday that some of them had been kidnapped the night before.

© 2011 AFP

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