Libyan conflict: the Wagner Group placed landmines in Tripoli

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31 May 2022

Human Rights Watch: the Wagner Group, apparently linked to the Russian government, placed landmines and booby traps in Libya

On May 31 Human Rights Watch exposed the use of landmines and booby traps in Libya during the 2019-2020 conflict. The use of such explosive ordnances was linked to the Wagner Group, a private Russian military security contractor apparently connected to the Russian government. The Wagner Group has been quite active in the Libyan conflict and recently it backed Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan Arab Armed Forces (LAAF) in the attack against Tripoli. 

Landmines and booby traps are activated by the proximity, presence or contact of a person. Because of the way they function and their inability to distinguish civilians from combatants, these weapons are prohibited under International Human Rights Law (IHL). Mine experts told Human Rights Watch that the landmines and booby traps presumably built by the Wagner Group were more sophisticated and lethal than those placed by Libyan, Sudanese or Syrian groups. 

Many Libyan demining agencies and deminers confirmed to Human Rights Watch the BBC’s findings, indicating that the Wagner Group is most likely responsible for placing the mines and booby traps in 35 places. Human Rights Watch, working in close contact with demining agencies, reported that the mines were hidden inside homes and other structures, and sometimes also inside furniture, like a sofa. Human Rights Watch also stated that three deminers died while dismantling a mine placed under a sofa. 

The presence of landmines and booby traps endangers civilians and prevent them from safely coming home. As such, Human Rights Watch said that “a credible and transparent international inquiry is needed to ensure justice for the many civilians and deminers unlawfully killed and maimed by these weapons”.


To learn more, visit:’s-wagner-group-set-landmines-libya


by Lorena Bisignano
edited by Tiago Cotogni

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