A Kiwi mother-of-two murdered in Libya was excited about
travelling to the country where her new partner worked, despite
a spike in criminal attacks in the area she was heading to.
In her last message to friends before she died, Wellington
trainee nurse Lynn Howie said she had arrived safely in
Tripoli and was "having a blast".
It is understood the 46-year-old planned to carry on to the
UK to visit family but wanted to spend time in Libya on the
way and see where her partner Mark De Salis lived and worked.
It was to be the trip of a lifetime, and in the last Facebook
post she wrote before she was killed, Ms Howie told friends
that being in Libya was "an amazing experience".
She and Mr De Salis were having a picnic on a beach near the
city of Sabratha, about 100km from Tripoli, when they were
gunned down in an "execution-style" killing.
The area is remote and local media have reported that the
only access to the beach is by 4WD. It has also been reported
that there have been several other murders and attempted
armed robberies on beachgoers in the same area recently.
Sabratha, a World Heritage Site, was a popular tourist
attraction in more stable times. But, like much of Libya, it
has suffered from political violence since the revolution,
including a series of attacks on Western targets.
The motive for the brutal crime is yet to be established, but
four people have reportedly been arrested in connection with
The Daily Mail online said the couple were reported missing
by friends and that their bodies were found by police on
Thursday. Police sources also told the online site it was
possible the presence of an unmarried couple in the area had
outraged extremist Muslims who might have followed them to
the beach and that execution-style killings are not unknown
in such circumstances.
Yesterday, New Zealand-based relatives of Mr De Salis were
not ready to speak about his death. His brother is Roger De
Salis, a well known figure in the IT and telecommunications
sector who now lives in Blenheim. His wife, Gayle De Salis, a
nurse in the army, is a friend of Ms Howie.
Ms Howie is survived by two sons, understood to be living
with her ex-husband Peter Gray, a former army major and
engineer who spent time in Somalia running a landmine safety
programme for the United Nations Mine Action Service. He also
travelled to Kabul in Afghanistan to study US Army logistics
abilities and techniques.
Mr Gray declined to speak about Ms Howie yesterday.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said an
investigation by the Libyan Authorities into the deaths was
under way, however no arrests had yet been made.
The ministry was continuing to provide consular support to Ms
Howie's family, an Mfat spokesman said today.
"We welcome the efforts that are being made to bring those
responsible for Ms Howie's death to justice."
Mr De Salis' UK-based family said he enjoyed his work in
Tripoli and liked the people of Libya.
"Mark had travelled extensively. He was a decent and
incredibly loyal man and he was loved by many," they said in
Colleague John Hamilton said Mr De Salis was "part of the
crowd of British guys in Libya who new people would gravitate
to for advice".
"He was a really decent guy ... He was one of those people
who was prepared to stick it out through the tough times. It
will have a terrible impact for the oil sector."