Magharebia (Washington DC)

2 April 2014

Libya: Tripoli Residents Protest Kidnappings

Tripoli — Tripoli traffic was paralysed Saturday (March 30th) by citizens protesting abductions and assassinations.

The Triq Al Sikka (Railway Road), which runs past the prime minister's office, was among the important arteries blocked off for much of the day in the Libyan capital.

The demonstrations came the same day that the body of Hisham Bishir, the headmaster of the private Arab Revolution School, was found in the Tripoli suburb of Qasr Ben Ghashir. The twin brother of former Supreme Security Committee chief Hashim Bishir had been kidnapped a day earlier.

"We celebrated the victory of Ahli Benghazi and forgot our worries. Today we are back to the reality of blockaded roads and kidnappings," shopkeeper Yasin Abu Bakr lamented.

Nahla bin Mahmoud, a housewife, said, "Every time I feel that things are getting better I notice people trying to pull back. I think elements of the former regime are behind it. Rebels committed mistakes, and the army is afraid of confrontation."

"There is no clear authority of the army and no police, as if we live in a state without institutions," Tripoli doctor Ziad Mokhtar said.

University of Tripoli student Scheherazade Trabelsi said, "The world must help us by destroying arms storehouses and those that conduct operations harmful to the state."

Indeed, stockpiled weapons were the cause of an enormous explosion that recently rocked Derna.

The blast occurred overnight last Thursday at a farm on the town's outskirts. The place is owned by Attia Shaeri, a former member of the Abu Salim Martyrs Brigade.

According to LANA, shells or missiles hit the house. It turned out to be filled with ammunition, and the resulting explosion obliterated the place altogether. Nearby residents were forced to flee east towards Wadi Arfid.

Citizens are voicing frustration with the persistent insecurity.

"If other countries help us, then Libya will not remain a haven and base for terrorists," remarked journalist Ali Mansour, 29. "I am surprised that Libyans who were happy when NATO helped us refuse help now."

"Building the state and attracting investments and helping the economy cannot happen while we have terrorism. Otherwise we will become like Iraq and Afghanistan," he said.

According to Zakari Nafati, a University of Tripoli student, "young people are fed up with lawlessness".

"We had many hopes when taking part in the revolution," he said. "The government has to develop programmes for young people so that they can withdraw from armed brigades and work for Libya," Nafati suggested.

If nothing is done to help them, the student said, "they might end up serving agendas that they don't know about".

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