19 March 2014

Libya: Violence Reaches New Heights

Tripoli — Libya on Wednesday (March 19th) entered its second day of national mourning for the eleven cadets killed in a Benghazi car bombing.

The Monday blast immediately after a graduation ceremony at a military academy also left five students in critical condition. All victims were in their teens and twenties.

The Benghazi bloodshed came on the heels of yet more killings in Derna. The bodies of two armoured car security guards kidnapped Thursday were found on Friday.

Gunmen tried to hijack the vehicle, which was transferring money for the Central Bank of Libya's al-Wehda Bank.

"The gunmen kidnapped two guards - Adberrazek Badr and Saad al-Mesmari - but Umm al-Rizam residents chased them away and managed to recover the vehicle, which was carrying 4 million Libyan dinars," a local source told Magharebia on condition of anonymity.

The same day as the guards' abduction, masked gunmen stormed a farm in Derna's al-Fatayeh area and killed four moderate Islamists. The victims were opposed to the jihadists.

The wave of violence has not been confined to eastern Libya.

Last Friday, a large armed force took control of the Libyan army's 2nd Brigade camp on the outskirts of Tripoli.

"Many vehicles were seized, others were burnt and damaged," Maj. Hasan al-Fayedi, head of the Libyan army's media centre, told Magharebia.

The attack on the training base came as a surprise, he added.

"What happened to the Libyan army camp on Friday is a major breach of the Libyan state's sovereignty, and a step in the wrong direction on the road to build a real Libyan army that will preserve the dignity of the Libyan state," Tripoli-based journalist Abdelkrim al-Raqie said.

Citizens have been equally outraged over the violence. Yousra al-Hamidi, a student in the University of Tripoli's Faculty of Sciences, called for deploying more military forces.

"All of Libya supports you," she added.

Meanwhile, sacked interim Prime Minister Ali Zidan on Saturday (March 15th) told Libya Al Ahrar TV: "Derna needs an extraordinary solution, which is a massive military intervention."

"The problem in Derna lies in the fact that there are forces opposed to the state positioned at its valleys," he said.

"Because of events in Derna and Benghazi, we asked chiefs of staff to form military forces and send them there... but they didn't do that," Zidan added.

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