Looters broke into the Maltese Embassy in Tripoli causing some damage but the bullet holes found did not imply the building was a direct target during the conflict, an officer from the explosive ordnance disposal unit of the Armed Forces of Malta said.
A team of six members of the unit returned to Malta yesterday aboard the patrol boat P61, the first military vessel to enter a free Tripoli, following a security sweep at the embassy to ascertain the building was clear of any dangers and that the staff could start operating in safety. The officers also trained staff members on how to handle any explosion threats, using their own resources.
Major Jeffery Curmi, from the EOD, said fragments and small arms projectiles, which had already been fired, were found by the team that worked throughout Wednesday night before moving on to secure the consulate.
“Since the country is just about emerging from a conflict, the possibility of unexploded ordnance remains,” Maj. Curmi said when asked about the reality of the potential danger, adding that such exercises were being carried out throughout Libya.
Describing the situation on the ground, he said it was improving. Despite the presence of armed personnel and several vehicle checkpoints, in general the environment was stabilising and the Libyans were proud to be in a free country.
Among the 46 men on board the P61, which sailed into Marsamxetto Harbour at about 8 a.m., was a wounded Libyan national the AFM was requested to transport to Mater Dei Hospital for treatment.
The patient, who was accompanied by another man, was transported to hospital in an ambulance on arrival. His arm was in a sling but he walked off the vessel once it was moored.
Vanessa Frazier, defence director at the Office of the Prime Minister, said the wounded man had been on the frontline at Bani Walid and had been shot in the chest, the bullet exiting from his shoulder. He was suffering from an infection in his arm and that was why his file was passed on to Malta, she said. Mater Dei immediately evaluated the injuries and confirmed he could be treated.
“Normally, we would have waited for a UN flight but the vessel was in port and he was able to embark rather quickly,” Ms Frazier said, adding that the files of other injured Libyans were still under review although not many were sent to Malta considering it had one general hospital.
AFM commander Brigadier Martin Xuereb congratulated the “collective effort” that was coordinated by the army’s operations branch.
He said the AFM rapidly executed the operation, which killed many birds with one stone, also serving as a training exercise and projecting the AFM’s diplomatic role.
Thanking the host nation for its support, Lt Col. Ian Ruggier, from the AFM’s operations branch, said the P61 allowed for flexibility and security to the team while its captain, James Grech, said sunken vessels were noticed in the port of Tripoli.
Lt Pasquale Papa, who headed the vessel protection detachment team, said the team would soon be deployed on anti-piracy duties in the Red Sea off Somalia.
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