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Former Islamic State captives released in Libya

Former Islamic State captives released in Libya

Libya

Libyan authorities on Wednesday released 28 Eritreans and seven Nigerians who were captured and enslaved by Islamic State in Sirte.

The released victims had been held in detention since the jihadist group lost the city in December.

The women and children, some as young as 12 years old, were captured by Islamic State militants when the group overran the coastal city of Sirte in early 2015.

I'm very happy, I can't describe how I feel, but I am very happy, I can start a new life and see my family again.

“I’m very happy, I can’t describe how I feel, but I am very happy, I can start a new life and see my family again,” said one of the Eritrean migrants.

The Libyan attorney-general’s office announced that it had cleared the women of any wrongdoing in mid-February, but their release was delayed for several more weeks, with no explanation.

International red Crescent officer, Saleh Abu-Zeriba said they have handed them over to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) who are expected to send them back to their home countries.

“Today, in cooperation with the judicial authorities and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) we released these women, who hold different nationalities. Five of them are from Nigeria, and 23 others are Eritrean women with five children,”

The group escaped from Sirte, a former Islamic State stronghold in central Libya, while forces from the nearby city of Misrata battled to oust the militants late last year.

Some of the women were on their way to Europe when Islamic State fighters kidnapped and held them as sex slaves.

After escaping from Sirte, they were investigated for possible ties to the group and held for several months in a Misrata prison.

The Libyan attorney-general’s office announced that it had cleared the women of any wrongdoing in mid-February, but their release was delayed for several more weeks, with no explanation.

On Wednesday, they were received by staff from the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) and the Libyan Red Crescent, before being taken to a shelter for medical checks.

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