13 August 2014

Libya: Benghazi Fighters Ignore Ceasefire Plea

Photo: Al Jazeera English
More than 50 people have been killed in fighting in Libya since Saturday night. Weeks of violence in Benghazi and the capital Tripoli have forced many foreign diplomats to leave the country. Al Jazeera's Erica Wood reports.

Benghazi — Despite repeated calls for a ceasefire in Libya, terror group Ansar al-Sharia launched fresh attacks against security forces last week in Benghazi.

Ansar al-Sharia and their allies from the Central Shield and February 17 brigade launched attacks on the Benina district to try to destroy the airport, under the control of Operation Dignity forces.

This led the air force to perform a defensive operation that killed at least 74 Ansar al-Sharia members and other extremist fighters in Benghazi last Thursday (August 7th).

The new legislature promised in a press conference that it would confront the fight between rival militias that do not adhere to the implementation of the ceasefire.

"They are extremists following a scorched earth policy," said Colonel Hassan Alakori. "Either the Muslim Brotherhood governs or they scorch the land and leave it lifeless."

The skirmish between Ansar al-Sharia forces and Operation Dignity troops came two days before the terror group clashed with rival Islamists.

A source from inside Ansar al-Sharia, Y. M. G., told Magharebia, "On Saturday, August 9, fierce fighting took place between Ansar al-Sharia and the Central Shield led by Wisam Bin Humaid, resulting in the loss of seven people in their ranks."

The same source added that the reason for the fight was a power struggle in that "Ansar al-Sharia, led by Mohammed al-Zahawi wants an Islamic emirate in Benghazi and Wisam bin Humaid wants the Muslim Brotherhood to rule, which led to fighting between them and the rift that took place."

For his part, Justice and Construction Party member Ahmed Fitouri said that "terrorists like Ansar al-Sharia" would not be allowed "to return Libya to prehistoric ignorance and backwardness".

But many Libyans interviewed by Magharebia were fed up with the internecine militia violence on all sides.

"We are tired of seeing them in the streets and the clothes they wear as if they were cavemen. They want to be good and helpful by force. They want to apply the Sharia that suits them," said Hawa Younis, a 56-year-old elementary teacher.

She said, "They want to shed blood and implement Sharia against criminals in their own way without courts or law. They do not want the army and police and every police officer or security man or media member is an infidel in their eyes, and this legitimises killing. This has nothing to do with the Islamic religion. This is a smokescreen used as a cover by these few fools."

Saad Abdelhafedh, a 27-year-old management student, said: "Because of this ongoing war between the terrorist organisation and the army, studies were stopped as well as exams, and the announcement of results was delayed. So far we do not know when life will return to normal and we can go back to our studies again."

"What hurts me the most is that I have friends, vulnerable and naive souls who were targeted and forced to join the Central Shield in exchange for money," he added. "Others believed that they were going to reform the nation. They are instead a tool to kill."

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