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LIBYA

Sweden issues Libya travel warning

Sweden has warned its citizens against all travel to Libya amid reports that dozens of people have been killed as government forces attempt to quash growing unrest in the country.

Sweden issues Libya travel warning

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt called the developments in Libya “unacceptable.”

“All reasons to be extremely concerned over Libya. Regime violence causing high number of deaths. Completely unacceptable,” Bildt wrote on his Twitter account on Sunday.

At the same time, the Swedish foreign ministry issued a statement on Sunday advising Swedes to avoid all travel to Libya.

“In light of the security situation, the foreign ministry advises for the time being against all travel to Libya,” the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry, which just a day earlier had cautioned only against all non-essential travel to Libya, also said it was “urging Swedes with no pressing reason to stay to leave the country if the security situation allows.”

The warnings come amid reports of a violent crackdown by Libyan security forces against protesters who began demonstrating last week against the rule of Colonel Muammar Qaddafi.

According to Human Rights Watch, more than 230 people have been killed in recent days, many in the town of Benghazi, where government forces reportedly fired with machine guns on a funeral procession.

Protests began in Benghazi on Tuesday of last week, with thousands of people taking to the streets to demand the release of a human rights advocate.

On Thursday, protests spread to other parts of the country on what was called a “Day of Rage” against Qaddafi’s more than 40-year-rule.

Writing on his blog on Monday, Bildt called the weekend’s developments in Libya “extremely worrying.”

“A total breakdown in Libya isn’t at all unthinkable and would have grave consequences in a number of different areas,” wrote Bildt.

“In the Mediterranean countries, concern for what it may mean is great. A massive flood of refugees, is, at the moment, a very real possibility and will place demands on European solidarity.”

In Brussels for a meeting with his European counterparts, Bildt said that he and other EU foreign ministers “strongly condemn the violence which has been used against peaceful demonstrators.”

He theorised that the Libyan government appeared to have “lost a significant amount of control” of parts of the country, adding that a “peaceful development” similar to what occurred recently in conjunction with pro-democracy demonstrations in Egypt and Tunisia now appears “less likely” in Libya.

In addition to advising against travel to Libya, the Swedish foreign ministry has also advised that Swedes avoid all non-essential travel to Bahrain after anti-government demonstrators were also met with a violent response from government forces.

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BURIAL

Swedish archeologist finds ancient mass grave in Egypt

A Swedish archeologist has discovered a 3,000-year-old mass grave at the Gebel el-Silsila site in southern Egypt.

Swedish archeologist finds ancient mass grave in Egypt
John Ward and the team with one of the sarcophogi. Photo: Gebel El Silsila Project
Maria Nilsson, Researcher in Classical Archeology at Lund University, told Sweden’s TT newswire that although her group had so far dug through less than half of the grave site, they had already found a large number of human remains. 
 
“It’s just skeleton after skeleton after skeleton,” she said. “We haven’t yet finished the first chamber, but we have so far taken up 50 adults and 25 children.” 
 
Nilsson and her British husband John Ward, who is the project’s Assistant Director, announced the discovery in a video after it was announced by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquity on Thursday. 
 

 
The group discovered the shaft last year, but only realised its full significance when they started digging this October. The shaft was found five metres under ground and leads to two chambers, each filled with water, sand and sludge. 
 
View to the south-east of chamber 1. Photo: Gebel el Silsila Project
 
The grave is thought to date from Egypt’s 18th dynasty, making it around 3,400 years old. As well as bodies, the archeologists have found burial goods, such as scarabs, amulets, and different types of pots, coming from three generations of pharoahs: Thutmosis II, III och Amenhotep II.
 
Writing in her blog, Nilsson, said that no similar mass grave had been found as part of the dig. 
 
“No other tomb documented at Gebel el-Silsila previously has contained such a high number of entombed individuals,” she wrote.
 
“One of the more important results of the discovery at Gebel el-Silsila is the amount of buried children and women, indicating that there was a complete society with entire families living and working in ancient Kheny.”
 
 
Men-Kheper-Re scarab. Photo: Anders Andersson
 
“What we can see from the burial goods and the actual architecture of the tomb is that they belonged to the upper middle-class,” Nilsson said. “For various reasons, we believe that they were involved in quarry work.” 
 
The archeologists have several theories for why so many bodies were collected in the same place. 
 
Perhaps it was a kind of temporary morgue where Egypt’s priests kept bodies while waiting for grave sites to become available. Perhaps there had been an epidemic.   
 
In February Maria Nilsson and John Ward are returning to Sweden, and will be returning to the burial place next autumn. 
 
View from the shaft into chamber.  Photo: Anders Andersson
 
 
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