Benghazi plunges deeper into lawlessness: Assassination of army officer

Libya security forces come under near-daily attack, particularly in east, as they try to rein in militias made up of former rebels by Middle East Online

BENGHAZI – A Libyan army officer was shot dead as he drove his teenage son to school Sunday in the increasingly lawless eastern city of Benghazi, officials said.

Further east in the city of Derna, long seen as a bastion of radical Islamists, dozens of residents blocked roads, burned tyres and called for a strike to protest against insecurity in the city, according to witnesses and a local official.

Libya’s security forces have come under near-daily attack, particularly in the east, as they have tried to rein in militias made up of former rebels who toppled long-ruling dictator Moamer Gathafi in 2011.

Benghazi security forces spokesman Ibrahim al-Sharaa said unknown gunmen had fired on Salah Fraj al-Dursi as he drove his 17-year-old son to school, killing the officer and wounding the teenager.

Fadia al-Barghathi, the spokeswoman of a nearby hospital, confirmed the death and said Dursi’s son was undergoing surgery after being shot in the hand.

Benghazi has seen a surge in violence in recent days following a deadly battle Monday between the army and well-armed jihadist group Ansar al-Sharia, which left seven people dead and 50 wounded.

The Derna protests appeared to have been modelled on similar demonstrations against militias in the capital Tripoli and Benghazi, which have ignited deadly violence.

“The people are calling for civil disobedience until the army deploys” to put and end to the “anarchic situation” in the city, the Derna official said on condition of anonymity.

He added that the protest came after leaflets hung at mosques by a group calling itself “The Brigade of Abu Bakr al-Siddiq” warned against anti-Islamist demonstrations.

Unknown assailants on Saturday blew up the headquarters of a network of civil society groups in Derna, without wounding anyone.

Like Benghazi, Derna has seen a string of attacks in recent months on members of the security forces, which are also largely composed of former rebels.

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