Nine die in Libyan helicopter shooting

  • 28/10/2015

A helicopter carrying 16 people has been shot down over the sea near Libya's capital, killing at least nine passengers, including a senior militiaman.

The aircraft was hit by gunfire shortly before noon on Tuesday (local time) and went down near the Al-Maya area just west of Tripoli, said Colonel Mustafa Sharkasi, a spokesman for the air force of Libya's Tripoli-based government.

"We have so far recovered nine bodies, including the body of Colonel Hussein Abu Diyya," said senior officer in the powerful Fajr Libya militia that controls the capital.

"We think that all the passengers are dead," Sharkasi said.

A Tripoli-based official earlier said the helicopter had been carrying 23 people.

Sharkasi said the aircraft was "unarmed" and blamed armed groups allied to the internationally recognised government for carrying out this "criminal" act.

He vowed that the Tripoli-based administration would retaliate.

"We will respond at the appropriate time and place," he said.

Sharkasi said the helicopter was on its way to Tripoli from an unspecified location when it was hit.

Three crew members and "employees, including bank employees who were carrying funds for state employees" were on board in addition to Abu Diyya.

Libya descended into chaos after the October 2011 ouster and killing of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Two governments are vying for power and armed groups are battling for control of its vast energy resources.