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No arrests over death of Kiwi woman in Libya

Published: 9:56AM Monday January 06, 2014 Source: ONE News

There have been no arrests over the death of Kiwi woman Lynn Howie in Libya, ministry officials have confirmed.

There were reports that several arrests had been made in Libya over the execution-style killings of the New Zealand woman and her British partner, Mark De Salis.

But the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has told ONE News that despite the reports, no arrests have been made.

It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime for health worker Ms Howie - a visit to a country in chaos to meet up with the "love of her life".

But the couple were gunned down while picnicking on a secluded beach near the city of Sabratha, 65km west of Libya's capital, Tripoli.

Friends of the Wellington mother-of-two say the pair had both been through marriage breakups and were looking forward to starting a new life together.

The couple met in New Zealand last year through mutual friends. One describes Ms Howie as "like a child at Christmas - excited" about going to Libya, and says she had no concerns for her safety.

A close friend told ONE News 46-year-old Ms Howie lived for her two boys, who are both in their early teens.

Chilling last words

Ms Howie's chilling last words to friends on Facebook spoke of what an amazing trip she was having, and revealed she was looking forward to a different style of new year celebration.

"Landed safely in Tripoli, survived the drive from the airport and having a blast. Such an amazing experience and such a contrast from New Zealand," she posted.

"Experienced the first of the machine gun fire last night, tonight should be interesting...New Years Libyan style."

Mr De Salis had been working in Tripoli for six years for an engineering company.

His family has issued a statement saying it is devastated and that he was enjoying his work and liked the Libyan people.

New Zealander Gwyn Rees served in the armed forces with Mark De Salis in Bosnia in 1992.

"[He was] a guy you'd want to have with you when you were in a tight spot, reliable but nevertheless a great sense of humour and a lot of fun to be with," Mr Rees said.

"In the time I knew him, he was always interested in bettering the people around him and doing the best he could for people in awkward situations and hard circumstances."

Motive a mystery

The reason for the brutal attack is a mystery.

But there are some theories.

A Middle East security analyst, Shashank Joshi, says western Libya is an area of concern.

"The west of the country is somewhere where I think there'll be renewed concern, particularly those areas near oil and gas facilities that may be attractive targets for militants," Mr Joshi said.

Lynn Howie was studying nursing and was a volunteer paramedic for the Wellington Free Ambulance.

Her family has requested privacy. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade says it will continue to provide assistance.