The Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has confirmed that one of its delegates, a Swiss citizen, was killed in the western Libyan city of Sirte on June 4. On July 16, the Swiss Federal Prosecutor's office announced it was investigating the death.
Forty-two-year-old Michael Greub was attacked by unidentified gunmen as he left a meeting with two colleagues, according to the ICRC. He died in Sirte's hospital.
"His colleagues are unhurt but in shock," said ICRC spokesman Wolde Saugeron.
“They were ambushed around midday. They were heading towards their car that did not carry any ICRC signs, following our operational policy in Libya,” the spokesman added.
The attackers allegedly shot from point-blank range at the humanitarian workers. The victim was the head of the sub-delegation based in Misrata, around 200 kilometres from the Libyan capital Tripoli, as ICRC director-general Yves Daccord later confirmed.
"The ICRC vigorously condemns this heinous attack," said Daccord in a statement.
"We are devastated and outraged," he added. "Michael was a devoted humanitarian who spent many years of his life helping others."
The ICRC said on Thursday that it had temporarily halted its activities in Libya. But it said it was too early to say what the consequences the death of their colleague would have in the long term.
Greub had worked for the ICRC for more than seven years, carrying out assignments in Iraq, Sudan, Yemen, and Gaza. He had been based in Misrata since March.
According to a spokesman for the Libyan Red Crescent, the victim was visiting the local Red Crescent office in Sirte.
This is not the first time the ICRC has been attacked in Libya. Its offices in Misrata as well as Benghazi in the east of the country were targeted in 2012, but there were no victims. The attacks are believed to have been carried out by radical Islamist groups.
Swiss President Didier Burkhalter said he was “consternated” by the murder of the delegate, addressing his condolences to the victim’s family, friends and the ICRC. He called on all parties involved in the Libyan unrest to respect international humanitarian law and humanitarian principles.