The ancient amphitheater of the city of Sabratha — considered a “jewel of the Roman Empire” — is scarred by bullets and littered with shell casings from roving smugglers and illegal immigrants, the French outlet AFP reported.
After Libya’s former dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, was ousted and killed in 2011, Sabratha has become a hub of illegal immigration and armed smugglers that sometime come into conflict, AFP reported. (RELATED: African Migrants Captured By Libyan Gangs Were ‘Cooked Like Kebabs’)
The “entrenchment of armed groups inside archaeological sites and the battles which have unfolded near the sites, including Sabratha, pose a permanent danger,” Libya’s department of antiquities head Mohamad al-Chakchouki told AFP.
A militant group settled in Sabratha in 2017 and began intercepting ships loaded with migrants on their way to Italy. The armed group ambushed ships and fought violently with businesses and organizations making profit carrying the migrants, Reuters reported.
At the time, the Sabratha brigade said it was working for the Tripoli government to lower immigration.
“We, al-Dabbashi brigade, had an agreement with Government of National Accord to stop illegal migration,” brigand leader Ahmed al-Dabbashi told Reuters in a phone interview, referring to the Tripoli government.