Libya wraps two Islamist brigades into regular army
STUNNED by weekend rioting that saw angry crowds in Benghazi storm three militia bases, leaving 11 dead, Libya’s government has demanded army officers take charge of the city’s two remaining Islamist brigades.
Both February 17 and Rafallah Al Sahati, have announced they will accept the measure, which Tripoli hopes will quell public anger directed equally at the militias and the government itself.
But Benghazi, Libya’s second city, is angry that the two brigades will remain, with the authorities deciding to incorporate them into the army rather than order their disbandment.
The news comes as Rafallah Al Sahati’s most prominent commander, Ishmael Salabi, who was shot twice by protestors during the weekend riots, announced that 113 protestors had been arrested by his men.
He blamed followers of Mahmoud Jibril, leader of Libya’s largest political party, the pro-business National Forces Alliance, for being behind the disturbances.
In comments likely to inflame the tension between the NFA and its rival, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Justice and Construction party, Mr Salabi said: “They [the instigators] are Jibril people, they were pretending to be democrats.”
Activists in Benghazi are demanding a fully transparent legal process for the 113 arrested and for an investigation into four protestors shot at the Rafallah base and six soldiers found shot dead nearby.
Now there is a stalemate: Weekend protests saw the destruction of the base of another Islamist militia, Ansar Al Sharia, blamed by many for the attack on the US consulate earlier this month in which American ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed – however, Islamist brigades remain in Benghazi.
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