Reuters reports: Abdulnasser Ruhuma was asleep in his bed when the militia fighters barged into his Tripoli home. The shouting woke the Libyan bank worker and he rushed downstairs to find around 40 men pointing their rifles at him.
Moments later they started beating him. Ruhuma’s wife and relatives begged the intruders to stop but they dragged him and his uncle away. Punched, hit with rifle butts and cut with knives, Ruhuma was taken to a makeshift detention center in the middle of the night.
In a stark reminder of the lawlessness that prevails in Libya eight months after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, the gunmen never told Ruhuma why they abducted him. He says it stems from a family issue – a relative wanted revenge, so he called on the help of an armed brigade.
“We weren’t told anything, we were just beaten – our hands, our legs, our bodies,” the 42-year old father-of-two said.
“I thought I would never make it out alive.”
Libya’s aspirations to replace Gaddafi’s repressive rule with an ordered, democratic nation are being undermined by increasingly wayward volunteer militias who operate outside the control of fragile state institutions.
The militias attract most attention when, mounted on their battered pick-up trucks with anti-aircraft guns welded to the back, they fight pitched battles in city streets against rival groups, usually over some perceived slight or a dispute over territory.
But it is their less visible activities that have done the most to puncture the sense of euphoria and freedom that followed Gaddafi’s downfall.