24 December 2012

Libya Calls for Calm in Benghazi

Tripoli — Libyan officials are determined to keep the newest Benghazi violence from derailing the restoration of stability.

In the wake of the latest deadly clash in Benghazi, security forces are calling on Libyan citizens to defuse conflicts and spare further bloodshed.

Speaking Saturday (December 22nd) at a Tripoli press conference, Interior Ministry spokesman Majdi Al-Araffi said that authorities would pursue the perpetrators of the Thursday attack on the Security Directorate in al-Hawari that killed four people.

Libyan Army Chief of Staff Youssef al-Mangoush on Friday also urged citizens in Benghazi to exercise self-control and ignore rumours that could threaten the security of the state. He asked them to co-operate with authorities to realise stability and calm across their city.

Grand Mufti Sadeq al-Ghariani spoke out as well, saying that Libyans "must not expose their homeland, their city and families to risk, ruin and destruction, they must not awaken discord, which, if ignited, would leave nothing but devastation and destruction".

The violence was "not just a cause for sadness and sorrow, but a cause for condemnation and criticism in the strongest possible terms", General National Congress (GNC) President Mohamed Magarief also said Friday.

"Benghazi has suffered enough oppression, tyranny, injustice, deprivation, marginalisation, neglect and tyranny over the last four decades," Magarief added.

The deadly confrontations began Thursday after some 100 protestors gathered outside the Benghazi Security Directorate to demand the release of two detainees. They were also reportedly angered by the transfer to Tripoli of the suspected killer of Colonel Faraj Drissi, the Benghazi security chief appointed after the US consulate attack and gunned down last month outside his home.

When Colonel Salah Buhlaiga, the commander of the city's mobile security force, exited the building to talk with the mob, he was struck by a rock.

The incident set off bloody clashes.

The mob fired on the directorate with guns and grenades, hurled bombs on national security personnel, and hit an army vehicle with an RPG. The gun battle left at least four people dead and 16 others injured.

Libyan Interior Minister Ashour Shwail has urged the people of Benghazi to give judicial authorities the opportunity to investigate the events.

The interior minister said he had sent an official letter to the attorney general asking him to appoint a judge from a neutral entity so as to give all parties their rights.

Meanwhile, Libya has begun deploying troops to help bolster security in Benghazi.

"Army units will secure the entrances and exits of the city, as well as strategic sites, until security is restored," army spokesman Ali al-Sheikhi told AFP.

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