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Libya

'Islamic State' sniper kills Dutch photojournalist in Libya

Dutch photojournalist Jeroen Oerlemans has died after being shot during an ambush in the Libyan city of Sirte. At least eight soldiers allied with Libya's unity government were also reportedly killed.

Photojournalist Jeroen Oerlemans was fatally shot on Sunday while accompanying mine-clearing teams in the Libyan city of Sirte, according to fellow journalist Joanie de Rijke, who was reporting with him for the Belgian magazine "Knack."

Dr. Akram Gliwan, a spokesman for a hospital in Misrata where pro-government soldiers are treated, told news agency Agence France-Presse that Oerlemans was "shot in the chest by an 'Islamic State' sniper while covering battles in Sirte," located 450 kilometers (280 miles) east of Tripoli.

Eric Strating, the Dutch ambassador to Libya, tweeted his condolences, writing: "Your photographs of Sirte, Libya and other places will live on forever."

"Oerlemans is a journalist who kept going where others stopped. Driven to put the news into pictures in the world's hot spots. It is profoundly sad that he has now paid the ultimate price for this," said Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders in a statement.

The 45-year-old photojournalist was wearing a bulletproof vest and helmet and was clearly identifiable as a journalist, de Rijke told Dutch national broadcaster NOS.

"But it doesn't matter to IS, of course. They shoot at everything and everybody," she added.

The team was in an area of the city that had been freed from the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) group when it was ambushed, Libyan officials said.

Fighting on Sunday also killed at least eight pro-government fighters and 10 IS fighters, said Libya's UN-backed unity government. An additional 57 members of the pro-government forces were wounded.

Forces allied with Libya's unity government launched an assault against IS jihadists in Sirte in May and have recently managed to drive them out with the help of US airstrikes.

The North African nation was plunged into chaos after the NATO-backed ouster of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. Control of the country - and access to its rich oil resources - is split between rival governments and militias.

rs/cmk (AP, AFP, Reuters)

 

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