Dutch journalist Jeroen Oerlemans killed in Libya

ISIL sniper fire blamed for death of Jeroen Oerlemans while covering government offensive against the group in Sirte.

A view shows buildings that were destroyed during a battle between Libyan forces allied with the U.N.-backed government and Islamic State militants in Sirte
Oerlemans worked for several organisations, including Belgium's Knack [Jeroen Oerlemans/Facebook]

Prominent Dutch journalist Jeroen Oerlemans has been killed covering a government offensive against ISIL in the group’s Libyan stronghold of Sirte, a city 450km east of Tripoli.

Dr Akram Gliwan, spokesman for a hospital in Misrata, told the AFP news agency that Oerlemans was shot in the chest by an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group sniper. The photographer’s body had been transferred there from Sirte.

Oerlemans was working in Libya for a number of organisations, including the Belgian weekly Knack magazine, which confirmed his death on Sunday.

A message on Knack’s website said Oerlemans was shot on a reporting assignment and that the publication “wishes his family much strength”.

Hundreds of people also took to social media to remember the well-respected journalist, to share his work, and to offer condolences to his family.

“Your photographs of Sirte, Libya and other places will live on forever,” the Dutch ambassador to Libya, Eric Strating, said on Twitter. “Condolences to all who loved him.”


“Rest in peace Jeroen Oerlemans,” Yvette van Eechoud, director of European and International Affairs at the Netherlands’ Ministry of Economic Affairs, tweeted. “Thank you for shining your light on the misery of others.”

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 11 other journalists and one media worker have been killed in Libya since 1992, when CPJ began keeping records. All but one of those deaths happened since the 2011 war against former leader Muammar Gaddafi.

“Journalists have recently begun returning in greater numbers to Libya to cover the conflict and political upheaval but it remains an extraordinarily dangerous place,” Robert Mahoney, the deputy executive director of CPJ, said.

“The death of Jeroen Oerlemans is a reminder that those who bring us images and video from the frontlines often pay the heaviest price.”

Oerlemans was held hostage by ISIL with British photo journalist John Cantlie in 2012, but he was later released.

Forces allied to Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) launched an assault against the ISIL bastion in May.

ISIL fighters holed up in Sirte, the birthplace of Gaddafi, have responded with suicide bombings and sniper fire, slowing the government-backed advance.

Fighting on Sunday killed at least 10 ISIL fighters and eight pro-government fighters around Sirte, the Tripoli-based GNA said.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies