Bodies of six militiamen found in Benghazi after attacks on bases

The Guardian reports: The Libyan city of Benghazi was tense after the bodies of six militiamen apparently executed after the storming of a base on the southern outskirts were discovered in a field.

The bodies were found the day after crowds marched on three militia bases, including that of Ansar al-Sharia, blamed by many in the city for the murder of the US ambassador, Chris Stevens, earlier this month. Funerals were held for nine protesters killed when crowds tried to force their way into the Rafallah al-Sahati militia base early on Saturday morning.

The militia was the only one of three to fire back when demonstrators swarmed over their bases, following a rally on Friday in which 30,000 people vowed to retake the streets of the city.

The interior minister, Fawzi Abdul Al, who was criticised for his failure to launch a full investigation of the murder of Stevens and three fellow diplomats, criticised the action of the crowds, saying the militias should have been given more time to incorporate into the official security forces.

The mood in Benghazi is one of both triumph and sorrow at the toll of dead and wounded. Mohammed El Kish, whose cousin was killed by a stray bullet more than a mile from the clashes, said: “He was not even involved in the actions, it is terrible.”

City hospitals were braced for more violence after the Rafallah al-Sahati militia reoccupied its looted base. Several hundred unarmed people gathered outside. “This is not good, they should not be here. When the funerals have finished there will be trouble,” said Ashraf Saleh.

Police remained in control of the Ansar al-Sharia compound, which is now a looted ruin. A spokesman for Ansar al-Sharia, whose units have dispersed outside the city, insisted they had withdrawn rather than confront protesters “for reasons of security”.

The chaos at the heart of Libya’s government remains, with some angry that Rafallah was attacked after it had formally been incorporated into the Libyan army. Such designations are lost on many ordinary Libyans, who say many militias from last year’s revolution have simply cut deals with ministries, enabling them to form what are in essence private armies.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email