Smuggling kingpin apparently killed with bodyguards in Libya – but who was he and who did it?

The claims, as often in Libya, were dramatic: Salah al-Maskhout, the country’s biggest people smuggler, had been shot dead along with eight of his bodyguards in the capital, Tripoli.

Prime suspects were a special forces unit of the Italian army, accused by officials of the Tripoli-based government – one of two rival authorities in war-torn Libya – of responsibility, on the basis of the ammunition employed.

The shoot-out had happened near the Tripoli Medical Centre, the city’s main hospital, on Friday morning as Mr Maskhout, alleged mastermind of the biggest operation smuggling migrants across the Mediterranean sea, was leaving a relative’s house.