Mahmoud al-Werfalli: Libyan military commander wanted for war crimes shot dead

A senior Libyan military figure, Mahmoud al-Werfalli loyal to deflated military commander Khalifa Haftar and wanted for alleged war crimes was shot dead by unidentified attackers in the eastern city of Benghazi.

The gunmen on Wednesday opened fire on a vehicle carrying al-Werfalli, seriously wounding him and his cousin, Ayman, AFP news agency reported. The pair were pronounced dead on arrival at Benghazi Medical Centre.

Born in 1978, al-Werfalli was a commander in an elite unit attached to Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), a coalition of forces that has dominated eastern Libya in recent years.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague has indicted al-Werfalli twice for the suspected killing of more than 40 captives, including in a 2018 incident in which photographs appeared to show him shooting 10 blindfolded prisoners.

In 2018, HRW said it had interviewed displaced people who said LNA-linked groups had seized their property and tortured, forcibly disappeared and arrested family members who remained in the city.

This month, al-Werfalli was shown in a widely circulated video raiding a car showroom in Benghazi alongside his uniformed men, smashing up furniture and computers as they brandished weapons.

Libya has been engulfed by chaos and repeated rounds of conflict since the uprising that overthrew its longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, with the main rift in recent years pitting a Tripoli-based government against an administration in the east loyal to Haftar.

The fighting came to a halt, however, last year and a formal ceasefire in October has been followed by the recent establishment of a new Government of National Unity (GNU), which was selected through a United Nations-supported process. Haftar did not officially take part in the political negotiations.