A woman and her family were shot by Libyan rebel fighters in a deadly attack because their last name was Gaddafi, it has been reported.
Mother-of-three Afaf Gaddafi was attempting to flee the war-torn country with her children and other family members over fears that their surname would land them in trouble.
Mistaken for Gaddafi loyalists, rebel fighters opened fire at them near an airport - killing the couple’s two daughters Yam, 20 months, and Aden, three weeks, as well as Afaf’s mother and sister.
Afaf Gaddafi and her three-year-old son Ahmed, who has no links to Muammar Gaddafi other than sharing a name, survived the attack.
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After realising the mix-up, soldiers from Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) escorted the family to hospital, but four of the six victims could not be saved.
Afaf lost her eye in the shooting and husband Essam Arara hopes that she can now receive specialist treatment in the UK.
London School of Economics graduate Mr Arara, who was living in Britain at the time of the shootings, told the London Evening Standard: “None of them are even related to Muammar Gaddafi - it is just a surname given to many thousands of members of his tribe.
“But my wife and all our relatives were afraid that they could immediately be subjected to revenge attacks just because of their names. So they decided to flee to a safer place.
“If their names had not been Gaddafi they would have stayed at home and all be alive today.”
Gaddafi is a common surname in the North African country indicating that the person is part of the Gaddadfa tribe.
Mr Arara, 36, was arranging for the family to join him in Britain. He said: “After what my wife and son have been through they cannot face living in Libya. Britain is our only chance for a decent future.”
Libya’s National Transitional Council was unable to comment in time for publication.