Mediterranean migrant crisis: Libya 'will repel any military action from EU' to stop people smugglers, claims Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

Exclusive: Mr Ghweil describes the possible strategy as akin to the 'colonial mentality' of his country's Italian occupiers in the last century

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Libya is ready to combat and repel any military action the European Union is planning in its attempts to stop the smugglers using the North African state as a base to carry migrants across the Mediterranean, the Prime Minister of the Tripoli government has warned.

Alarmed at the increasing numbers of refugees from Africa and the Middle East using Libya as a transit point, Britain and its European partners are considering options including sinking the trafficking boats and carrying out armed operations in Libya.

In an interview with The Independent, the strategy was described by Khalifa al-Ghweil, the leader of one of two rival administrations in the country, as akin to the “colonial mentality” of Italian occupiers of Libya last century, and “completely unacceptable in the modern world”.

Mr Ghweil pointed out that his administration has not even been consulted by the European Union over the proposed mission. He added: “They can’t come to control us, we can’t return to the era of 1911, foreigners deciding things. We have the ability to defend our sea and our land, as we had shown in our history and also during our revolution.”