Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –
Claims of “Black Africans” fighting alongside the Libyan troops of Moammar Gaddafi have raised speculation about the identity of the Black fighting force.
According to news reports from the region, sub-Saharan African ‘mercenaries’ were gunning down pro-democracy protestors in the first few days of the anti-Gaddafi uprising. A backlash has now formed against ‘Black’ Africans.
Peter Bouckaert of the NY-based Human Rights Watch, who met with some of the Africans captured by anti-Gaddafi forces, called them "ordinary African workers who got caught up in the middle of this chaos."
But, African analyst Na'eem Jeenah, executive director of the Afro-Middle East Centre in Johannesburg, affirmed that at least some of the Africans were paid to kill. Gaddafi has a long history of conscripting fighters from Chad, Nigeria, Niger, and perhaps the Central African Republic, noted Jeenah. ‘I think it is safe to say that they number at least in the hundreds.”
Others, from neighboring Chad, were described as men "who were not mercenaries specifically recruited to defend Gaddafi but members of (a Chadian) rebel movement Gaddafi has been funding and training for many years who would lose that support if he fell."
"The use of foreign fighters is really Gaddafi's last stand," Bouckaert said.
Meanwhile, in a detention center visited by the rights advocate, the prisoners, apparently from sub-Saharan Africa, called out to the visitors in English. "It is very dangerous here, we are innocent," shouted one man who did not give his name. "We cannot express ourselves. We are here with our wives. We are not bad people."
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