Three BBC journalists detained and beaten in Libya

Written by: Pti
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London, Mar 10: Three BBC journalists were detained and beaten before being subjected to a mock execution while reporting in battle-torn Libya, the news organisation reported.

"They hit me with a stick, they used their army boots on me, and their knees," Feras Killani, one of the released BBC Arabic reporters, said yesterday.

"He found a plastic pipe on the ground and beat me with that, then one of the soldiers gave him a long stick. After they finished beating me they taped the mask on my head with gaffer tape,"added Killani, who is of Palestinian descent.

"I think there was something personal against me, they knew me and the sort of coverage I had been doing," Killani said. "I think they monitored the BBC and had an idea, he knew who we were and what we were doing."

Killani and his colleagues, Briton Chris Cobb-Smith and Turk Goktay Koraltan, were arrested on Monday at a checkpoint six miles south of Zawiya, where forces loyal to leader Moamer Kadhafi are fighting vicious battles with rebels.

The three men were then taken to barracks where they "suffered repeated assaults" by members of Libya''s army and secret police before being released 21 hours later. All three have now left the country.

Cobb-Smith told BBC Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen that the three men were "lined up against the wall" before their mock execution.

"I looked and I saw a plain-clothes guy with a small sub-machine gun," he explained. "He put it to everyone's neck. I saw him and he screamed at me."

"Then he walked up to me put the gun to my neck and pulled the trigger, twice, the bullets whisked past my ear. The soldiers just laughed," he recalled.

"After the shooting incident one man who spoke very good English...ordered them to cut off our handcuffs. "When he had filled in the paper work, it was suddenly all over. It was a charm offensive, packets of cigarettes, tea, coffee, offers of food," he added.


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