Dozens killed in Libya’s fresh violence

Dozens killed in Libya’s fresh violence
Sun Jun 9, 2013 10:18:36

At least 28 people have been killed and 70 others wounded in clashes in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.

On Saturday, violence erupted between protesters and militiamen operating in the area.

Residents said dozens of protesters, some armed, had massed outside the headquarters of the Libyan Shield brigade, demanding the disbanding of the militias who have yet to lay down their weapons nearly two years after the overthrow of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

"People protested because they believe militias go against Libya's stability, which can only be achieved through a proper army and police,” Reuters quoted a local resident as saying.

After several hours of fighting, military special forces were brought in to restore order and seized the compound, losing five men in the process, a military source said.

Resentment against Libya's myriad militias has been growing in recent months, especially after militiamen laid siege to ministries in Tripoli last month to force their will on the national assembly.

But the central government, whose own forces are too weak to maintain security in a country awash with weapons, has found itself having to co-opt or license some of the most powerful militias to maintain even a semblance of order, while shutting down some others.

The Libya Shield brigade is made up of former rebels who say they are aligned with the Defence Ministry.

Libyans rose up against Gaddafi’s four-decade rule in February 2011 and deposed him in August 2011. He was slain on October 20 of the same year.

Benghazi was the birthplace of the 2011 uprising. It is largely governed by militias in the absence of unified Libyan security and military forces.

The former rebels refuse to lay down their arms, despite efforts by the central government to impose law and order.

Benghazi has been the scene of numerous attacks and assassinations over the past year as the power struggles between militiamen have intensified.

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