17 November 2013

Libya's Deputy Head of Intelligence Abducted Amid General Strike

Photo: Essam Mohamed/Magharebia
Demonstrators in Tripoli (file photo).

Libya's deputy head of intelligence has been abducted in Tripoli. This came as local residents held a general strike to demand that the city's militias be disbanded after dozens of people were killed over the weekend.

The deputy head of intelligence, Mustafa Nouh, was last seen at Tripoli's airport.

"The vice president of intelligence was abducted shortly after his arrival in Tripoli from a trip abroad," the AFP news agency quoted an unnamed government official as saying.

A separate source told the agency that Nouh had "disappeared," but provided no further details.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the abduction of Nouh, whose family originates from the city of Misrata, where many of the militas in Tripoli also originally come from.

This came as the residents of the Libyan capital began a three-day general strike to demand that the militias be disbanded after at least 43 people were killed and hundreds of others wounded in violence there over the past couple of days.

The bloodshed started on Friday, when militiamen opened fire on protesters marching towards a neighbourhood controlled by a number of Misrata militas.

The capital's streets were reported to be largely deserted on Sunday, with most of Tripoli's businesses and schools remaining closed.

The Associated Press reported that protesters entered parliament as lawmakers were meeting to discuss the security situation in the capital.

"The (National) Congress discussed mechanisms and the appropriate solutions to prevent such incidents from recurring," Omar Hemdan, a spokesman for the legislature told the DPA news agency.

Libya's government has struggled to assert its control over the militias, which helped end the 40-year-long dictatorship of Moammar Gadhafi in October 2011.

In one incident last month, Prime Minister Ali Zidan was held hostage for several hours before being released unharmed.

- AP, AFP, dpa

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