Libyan authorities in the northern port city Misrata have freed 28 Eritreans and seven Nigeria nationals who had been in detention for months as authorities investigated their ties to the ousted Islamic State (IS) group, the Reuters news agency reports.
The group, all but two of whom are women and children, escaped from Sirte, a former IS stronghold in central Libya, while forces from the nearby city of Misrata battled to oust the militants late last year.
Some of the women were on their way to Europe when IS fighters kidnapped and held them as sex slaves.
Samer Haddadin, head of the UNHCR’s Libya mission, told Reuters that those released would be processed as refugees and given protection and medical treatment.
Dozens of women and children who escaped from Sirte or were picked up there by Libyan forces are still being held in Misrata. They include Libyans, Tunisians, and nationals from several sub-Saharan African countries, Reuters reports.
IS took control of Sirte in early 2015, turning the coastal city into its most important base outside Syria and Iraq, stationing hundreds of foreign fighters there.
It took Misrata-led forces almost seven months to recapture the city.
Libya has been beset by chaos since Nato-backed forces overthrew long-serving ruler Col Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011.