In a bizarre event in the ongoing crisis in Libya, a distraught and disturbed Libyan woman sought out western reporters in a Tripoli hotel to claim she had been gang-raped for two days by fifteen members of a paramilitary force loyal to Moammar Gaddafi.
However, before she could tell the whole story, Iman al-Obeidi was dragged out of the Rixos hotel by Libyan officials and hotel employees.
The whole episode was captured on video (see below).
She alleged that she had been detained at a checkpoint, tied her up, sexually abused her and then led her away to be gang-raped.
They tied me up ... they even defecated and urinated on me, she said. The Gaddafi militiamen violated my honor.
She said she was victimized because she is from the eastern city of Benghazi, the rebel stronghold.
She yelled: Easterners - we're all Libyan brothers, we are supposed to be treated the same, but this is what the Gaddafi militiamen did to me, they violated my honor.
Her allegations could not be independently verified.
At a press conference following the incident, Moussa Ibrahim, a government spokesman, said investigators informed him the woman was drunk and possibly mentally ill.
“She seems, this is initial reports, to be suffering mentally. They are dealing with her. They are investigating, checking where her family is, who she is. She is refusing to tell them who she is, who her family are, her father, sister, brothers…as for physically handling her to take her out, this would be done anywhere in the world, if someone storms a place,” he said.
Anita McNaught, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Tripoli, said: The government initially suggested that she was drunk ... but when they [officials] came back to the journalists later to reassure them that she was being well cared for ... they did describe this as a case of rape.
The woman clearly had scratches on her face and bruises on her body. She claimed she was able to escape her captors with help from neighbors in the area where she was detained.
The Associated Press reported that during the melee hotel waiters called her a traitor and told her to shut up.
As she was being led away, she screamed: Look at what happens - Gaddafi's militiamen kidnap women at gunpoint, and rape them ... they rape them.”
She was bundled into a car outside the hotel and driven to an undisclosed location.
During the hotel disturbance several foreign journalists were manhandled and some had their cameras broken.