Briton and New Zealander found shot dead near oil facility in Libya

Sources say the bodies of a British man and a New Zealand woman were discovered close to a large oil complex, while two Americans were arrested in Banghazi in an unrelated case

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 January, 2014, 11:37am
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 January, 2014, 2:22am

A Briton and a New Zealander, both with gunshot wounds, have been found dead in western Libya, Libyan security sources said.

"Their bodies were found near the coastal area of Mellitah," one source said on Thursday, referring to a large oil and gas complex co-owned by Italy's ENI and a residential area near the town of Zuwarah and 100 kilometres west of Tripoli.

Another source said the New Zealander was a woman and the Briton a man. Both were found outside the oil complex, he said.

No further details were immediately available.

Authorities meanwhile arrested and then released two American basketball players in the eastern city of Benghazi,

The security situation has deteriorated in recent months in the North African country, where the government is struggling to rein in militias and tribesmen who helped oust Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and kept their guns.

A spokeswoman for Britain's Foreign Office said: "We are aware of reports that the bodies of two foreign nationals have been found in Libya and we are urgently seeking further information from the authorities."

A New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman said it was aware of reports a New Zealander may have been killed in Libya.

"We are working with the relevant authorities to confirm this," he said.

In the other incident, two Americans were detained at the campus of Benghazi university and taken to army headquarters. They had been contracted to Al-Hilal basketball club in Libya.

"They were released last night," Salah al-Fetouri, president of the club, said.

Fetouri said the army, which runs checkpoints and patrols in the city, had detained them because they had questioned what they were doing at night on a campus normally closed for non-students.

"After their identity had been confirmed they were released," he said. One of the pair is of Cameroonian origin.

Eight days ago, four American military personnel were detained by the government but released after several hours in custody.