Being shot won’t stop me rejoining Libyan fight

Ragab Ballali, Libyan rebel formerly from Wester Hailles
Ragab Ballali, Libyan rebel formerly from Wester Hailles
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A FORMER Capital bouncer who is fighting with rebels in Libya has vowed to return to the front line despite being shot by pro-Gaddafi forces.

Ragab Ballali, from Marchmont, flew to north Africa to join the uprising despite having no military experience.

The 36-year-old was almost killed last week when a rocket propelled grenade and a sniper’s bullet killed two men standing beside him, and he is now being treated in a Tunisian hospital.

But despite narrowly escaping death, he is working his way back to health and wants to return to his homeland as soon as possible to “see the job through”, his family has said.

His brother Belal, who grew up with Ballali in Wester Hailes before the family moved to Marchmont, is in close contact with him and spoke of his family’s pride. He told the Evening News: “He’s being treated in Tunis, and he’s on antibiotics to deal with the infection where he was shot on the elbow.

“Once that course is over we’ll see, he’ll be assessed and they’ll decide.

“It’s not easy because the gunshot was to his elbow, which means he’s having trouble with his fingers, and that’s what he uses to pull the trigger. But he’s very much keen to see the job through.”

Ballali was taken to hospital in Benghazi last Wednesday suffering shrapnel wounds to his face, arms and back.

The building he was in came under attack, and as he staggered out wounded he was then hit by a sniper. But that was a lucky escape, as the two men he was with were killed instantly.

His welfare is of obvious concern to his family, who originally fled to Edinburgh 30 years ago as opponents to the Gaddafi regime.

However, his brother said: “Of course we are worried, there is an element of it, but it is all outweighed by our feelings of pride.

“The word Braveheart comes to mind when I think of him.

“He’s able to look after himself and I’m confident he will be OK. What he is doing is great. He’ll be absolutely itching to get back. Edinburgh’s very important to us all, we went to school in Wester Hailes then to Boroughmuir. It means a lot.”

Ballali worked as a club doorman in Edinburgh, and spoke over the weekend of his determination to win the struggle for the Libyan rebel army.

He had been inspired to go there after watching Gaddafi’s gunmen fire on their own people on television, and has made clear he is willing to die for the cause.

“I decided I had to go,” he said at the time. “You can’t watch your own people die, you have to do something about it.”

amorris@edinburghnews.com