Magharebia (Washington DC)

5 May 2014

Libya Reacts to Bloody Ansar Al-Sharia Assault

Benghazi/Tripoli — The slaughter of nine soldiers by Ansar-al Sharia terrorists on Friday inaugurated another violent week-end in Benghazi.

The head of Benghazi's Joint Security Room (BJSR) on Saturday (May 3rd) narrowly escaped assassination. Colonel Abdullah al-Saiti was returning from a funeral when shots were fired at his convoy on Venezia Street, Libya Herald reported.

Benghazi's security chief, Colonel Ramadan al-Wahaishi, reportedly resigned following the Friday battle with Ansar-al-Sharia fighters that left at least nine soldiers and policemen dead. Twenty-four others were injured and four soldiers were reported missing.

The assailants were "armed brigades belonging to the so-called Ansar al-Sharia and other terrorist groups", the interim government said in a statement read by spokesman Ahmad Amin. The government also "strongly condemned the blatant infringement conducted by these armed groups".

"We will not hesitate to disallow the presence of terrorist or armed groups or groups outside the legitimacy of the state and we do not accept the existence of a state within the state," the statement read.

Colonel Milad Zwei, spokesman for Saiqa Special Forces in Benghazi, described the attack as a terrorist operation. "The attack on the Security Directorate is an attack on the state itself," he asserted.

Colonel Mohamed Hijazi, former BJSR spokesman, said that what happened was "an attack by extremist entities on state institutions after the Criminal Investigations Department seized a car filled with ammunition and weapons belonging to Ansar al-Dhalam ['Supporters of Darkness', a reference to Ansar al-Sharia]".

"These extremist groups conducted a criminal attack on the headquarters of the CID of the directorate. Two members of Saiqa had their throats slit after being tortured," the spokesman said.

Hijazi added, "As long as extremist entities exist and use their weapons, the Libyan state will not exist. Libya will not have security and safety in the presence of these entities."

Car bombings and assassinations in Benghazi are now a routine occurrence. Just last Tuesday, a suicide bombing left two soldiers dead and another two wounded.

For their part, the Saiqa Special Forces issued a statement reassuring the people of Benghazi, adding that they were prepared "for any emergency, armed with their faith in God and your trust in them".

Meanwhile on social networking sites, calls went out for Benghazi residents to rally in front of the February 17 Battalion to support the city's security forces.

Roueid Boughrara, a 25-year-old nurse, said, "Where is the compassion in killing people! Where is the compassion in bombings and laying traps! Where is the compassion in targeting humanity! Our religion protects the sanctity of blood, even birds and animals and cannot accept the killing of innocent people, whatever the reason and whatever the motives."

"Yet they are killing every day in the name of religion, which is innocent of them and their actions," she continued.

Zahra Cherif, a 33-year-old employee, asked, "Where are the people of the city that led the revolution and the entirety of Libya? Why can't the people of the city join forces with Saiqa to protect it? Are they satisfied with what is happening? Is this passivity weakness, or is the enemy stronger than Kadhafi?"

"In order for the caravan to move forward, no Brotherhood, no takfir and no Ansar al-Sharia," remarked Hassan Houni, an employee. "Of note, they are all al-Qaeda and against the army and the police. They are currently following the rule, my brother and I against my cousin, meaning they all think the same way."

"It is not enough to condemn bloodshed in general," commented Tariq Cherif, an accountant. "We must denounce explicitly the attack yesterday on the Benghazi Security Directorate and consider the attack to be an attempt to undermine the idea of the state and a threat to its security, and the attackers to be outlaws."

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