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Terrorism 2014-05-12

Benghazi bloodshed escalates

By Fathia al-Majbari and Aya Elbrqawi in Benghazi for Magharebia – 12/05/2014

Four Libyan soldiers were slain Sunday (May 11th) in the latest round of violence against security forces, widely blamed on Islamist militias.

The commanding officer of the 204th Tank Brigade, Salah al-Shaafi, was killed when assailants opened fire on his vehicle in Benghazi's al-Hadek neighbourhood as he drove his son to school.

Two other special operations troops were shot on Sunday in the al-Salam neighbourhood. The body of a fourth, Osama Salah Salama, was taken to al-Jalaa Hospital shortly after, according to Libya Herald.

Meanwhile, Colonel Ibrahim Senussi, the eastern region intelligence director, was assassinated in Benghazi last Thursday. He was shot twice in chest and neck. Eyewitnesses said the killers chased and strafed him with bullets.

The assassination came two days after Senussi appeared on Libya Awalan TV and accused Ansar al-Sharia of being behind the Benghazi violence.

Citizens also found a body on the beach in Ras Al Mongar in Benghazi. The unidentified body was taken to Benghazi medical centre where a source told al-Wasat news website that the victim died of torture.

The fresh violence came as four citizens died protesting against an Islamist militia on Friday, AFP reported. Twenty others were wounded when gunmen opened fire on a demonstration outside the February 17th Brigade base.

Benghazi residents had gathered outside the Tibetsi hotel after Asr prayers to demand the reinstatement of the police and army. No sooner did they assemble than the first demonstrator was killed.

Protestors then moved to the February 17th Brigade locale and demanded its disbandment, blaming it for assassinations in Benghazi.

"The February 17th brigade is a cancer that must be removed," said Amina al-Berki, a teacher. "If the tumour is not removed early, it will spread and kill all Libyans; we'll become like Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan and Pakistan."

On Saturday, Justice Minister Salah Marghani told reporters that the brigade was ordered to leave the city within 72 hours.

"We staged a peaceful demonstration during which we demanded that the bloodbath in Benghazi and Derna be stopped. A number of people were wounded when fire was opened at the February 17th Brigade, which is located at Venezia Street," explained Fatima Hassan, a 28-year-old journalist.

In her turn, Hawa Said, a 54-year-old teacher, said, "We as relatives of victims of assassinations in town took to street to demand that Ansar al-Sharia be fought and brought to justice."

"When we started gathering outside Tibesti hotel, gunmen opened fire at demonstrators and the demonstration started to move towards the February 17th Brigade, leading to clashes between demonstrators and brigade elements," she added.

Computer engineer Faraj Ali confirmed that the "February 17th brigade camp is one of the biggest military camps in Libya with all of its weapons, but all such weapons are hidden in farms in Gwarsha district and Sidi Faraj area."

"Col. Wanis Bukhamada has raided their farms more than once, and has even raided al-Nayrouz resort, and directly after that, they kidnapped his son," Ali added.

Abu Omar al-Manfi, a car electrician, said, "The so-called February 17th brigade is engaged in the most horrific forms of torture and is sponsoring terrorists and those exploiting religion under the auspices of Fawzi Bouketf, Moustafa al-Sagizli, Ibrahim al-Barghathy and Ismail al-Salabi. They must be arrested and brought to trial."

"We only took to the streets today in this demonstration to demand the return of army and police and security in town," al-Manfi told Magharebia.

Meanwhile, Seif al-Nasr wondered: "Why do we hear the news about the assassination of anyone who speaks about the General National Congress (GNC), Ansar al-Sharia or Shields just one day after they make statements?"

"I swear by God we've been plagued with people who are more cunning and evil than Kadhafi," Emad Nasser commented.

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