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One of the least known aspects of the current Libyan conflict is its brutal, racial component. Media reports claim Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is using black African mercenaries in his war against the rebels. In retaliation, the insurgents have targeted in violent attacks African immigrant workers living in Libya, from whom, the rebels believe, Gaddafi is recruiting his mercenaries. Before the uprising began, an estimated 1.5 million Africans resided in Libya, many as low-paid labourers, but the violence has caused a large number to flee the country or to go into hiding.