The family of a Libyan member of parliament who was abducted after she criticised rogue General Khalifa Haftar, fear she may have been tortured or sexually abused by her captors.
Seham Sergiwa, 56, was taken from her home on 17 July by armed men in a raid that left her husband and 14-year-old son badly injured.
Her relatives believe the women’s rights activist may have been kidnapped by forces loyal to Haftar.
“We have had no news since the abduction,” Sergiwa’s US-based niece Nicole told the Guardian.
“We thought it might just be an arrest, even though her family was beaten and shot up. But we are worrying that she is still alive and being hurt in ways we cannot imagine… torture, rape.”
Sergiwa frequently criticised Haftar, the Libyan military strongman who launched an offensive on Tripoli in late April.
On the day of her abduction she spoke on a pro-Haftar TV channel, saying Haftar’s supporters included “extremists” and calling for the rival Muslim Brotherhood to be included in a unity government.
Sergiwa has also criticised Haftar’s continuing offensive on Tripoli aimed at unseating the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) which is based there.
Her family say members of the 106th brigade, a force under Haftar, was seen at Sergiwa’s house the night of her abduction.
Her house was reportedly tagged with a warning for other critics, reading “the army is a red line”.
“She is truly an amazing person who speaks her mind. She would never compromise her principles. She does what she thinks is right. She has been speaking out forcefully against Haftar,” her niece told The Guardian.
Sergiwa was elected to Libya’s legislative assembly in 2014, after rising to prominence as a campaigner against sexual violence following the 2011 fall of Muammar Gaddafi.
Pro-GNA armed groups have weathered the initial Haftar onslaught and fighting has since remained deadlocked on the southern outskirts of the city, with both sides resorting to air strikes.
Haftar, who controls much of eastern and southern Libya, has presented himself as a bulwark against Islamists.
He has received backing from Egypt and the UAE, both of which are staunch opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The fighting since April has left nearly 1,100 people dead and wounded more than 5,750, according to the World Health Organisation. More than 100,000 civilians have fled their homes.