27 February 2014

Libya: Benghazi Youths Protest Assassinations

Photo: Kate Thomas/IRIN
A rebel fighter chats with a friend in central Benghazi (file photo).

Benghazi — The killings of two more policemen in Benghazi on Wednesday (February 26th) sparked protests by angry young residents.

Citizens shut streets and blocked access with burning tyres, damaged traffic signs and make-shift barriers. Twentieth Street, Dubai Street and the Majouri neighbourhood were all impacted, leading to significant traffic confusion.

The youths called on the residents of Benghazi to declare a state of civil disobedience to protest the deteriorating security situation and increase in assassinations.

The demonstration followed the murder of a member of the Isned Al-Amni force Siddik Sultan Suleiman. The officer was shot in front of Marwa Hospital at 10am on Wednesday in the city's Majouri district.

A military source with the Benghazi Joint Security Room confirmed that the victim died from a barrage of bullets. Doctors at Marwa Hospital tried to resuscitate him but he was pronounced dead on arrival at Benghazi Medical Centre.

The victim was a 42-year-old resident of Majouri district in Benghazi.

Later in the day gunmen murdered former judicial police officer Ali Mohammed al-Barrat outside his home in Gurwasha. Al-Barrat also suffered a barrage of bullet, including two to the head.

Meanwhile Fadhl al-Hasy officer in Saiqa Special Forces' Criminal Investigation Unit escaped an assassination attempt outside Marwa Hospital.

The shooting prompted elements of the criminal investigation unit as well as groups of local people to return fire. The gunmen fled the area. The investigations officer indicated that they were riding in a white Toyota.

Also on Wednesday, a military source in the Benghazi Joint Security Room confirmed the escape of prisoner Ahmed Mohammed Abdullah Bala, who stood accused of killing Abdulaziz Bredan Louati.

Louati was a member of the Saiqa Special Forces that intervened to quell the Hawari clashes. The source said that the ambulance transporting Bala was ambushed during the transfer to a hospital in Benghazi.

The Wednesday killings came on the heels of three assassinations on Tuesday targeting members of the army and Special Forces.

"Unfortunately what the youth are doing such as sit-ins and roads and main street blockades are useless," commented officer Hussein Abdul Wahid. "The fate of the country has been sealed and its institutions have been infiltrated by groups of political Islam."

Former congressman Juma Ateega told the media on Wednesday that those responsible for what is happening in Libya are those who do not want the state to be built and who are seeking to sow dissent and to see war and political instability.

He called on all Libyans to come together and unite to defend the sovereignty and stability of the homeland and its security. "If we want Libya to cross this difficult juncture we must stop this bloody situation,"Ateega concluded.

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