Motive riddle over picnic killings of Briton and New Zealand friend in Libya

 

Defence Correspondent

The motive for the killings of a British man and his female New Zealander companion on a beach in Libya could be criminal as well as political, investigators have said.

The pair appeared to have been having a picnic near the city of Sabratha when they became the targets of an “execution style” shooting.

The British victim was named by the Foreign Office on Saturday as Mark De Salis, an energy worker.

An earlier account, claiming that they were teachers working in the capital, Tripoli, has been found to be incorrect.

The bodies of the Briton and the New Zealander have been taken to Tripoli for forensic examination.

Officials stated that they had not been able to ascertain fully what the couple were carrying and were thus unable to rule out robbery as a reason for the attack.

However, pictures of the murder scene at the Talil Seyahi beach issued by local community journalists at the Sabratha Media Center showed a rucksack had been left behind near the corpses.

The footage, taken at night and put on the internet, shows a man and a woman lying face down in the sand at the beach alongside a picnic basket, with food laid out on a blanket.

Sabratha, a World Heritage Site, was a popular tourist attraction in more stable times. But, like much of Libya, it has suffered from political violence since the revolution, including a series of attacks on Western targets.

However, Libyan officials pointed out that the breakdown of law and order and the prevalence of firearms had resulted in a spike in criminal attacks in the area.

A local man was killed recently during a carjacking, and homes have been robbed at gunpoint.

The most high profile act of political violence aimed at foreigners since the fall of the Gaddafi regime was the murder of the US ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi the year before last.

A convoy carrying the then British ambassador, Dominic Asquith, was also attacked in the same city.

A month ago an American teacher was shot dead in Benghazi, and two basketball players, also from the US, were arrested and held by the security forces – parts of which have been infiltrated by Islamists – at the city’s university.

Sabratha has not experienced significant jihadist activity, but the area was a source of support for the regime during the revolution. There is deep residual bitterness over the months of Nato bombing which led to the fall and subsequent capture and killing of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

A week ago, four US military personnel were briefly detained near Melitah while working on an evacuation plan for American nationals in case of emergency.

The Melitah complex is co-owned by the Italian ENI company. Libya’s energy sector, the main source of the country’s revenue, has been hit by a series of strikes and clashes involving militias. But this has not, so far at least, led to the targeting of foreign workers.

The Foreign Office said last night it was “deeply saddened” by the news, adding: “We call upon the Libyan government to carry out a thorough investigation into this appalling crime.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected