Libyans attack militia groups, demand disarming

Libyans attack militia groups, demand disarming

Benghazi : Libya | Sep 22, 2012 at 4:12 AM PDT
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Video of bloody Libya unrest as protests rage in Tripoli, Benghazi

The attack on the U.S. Consulate and subsequent killing of Ambassador Chris Stevens was he last straw for some Libyans. Large protests of approximately 30,000 in Benghazi called for the disarming of militia groups suspected to be behind the consulate attack.

The Libyan government has angered many Libyans by being unable to put a check on these militias, who profess to provide security for the country when Libyan forces can't. Protesters broke a way from a huge march yesterday and attacked militia compounds in Benghazi. According to hospital officals, two were killed and approximately 30 injured after overnight clashes near the compound of the Rafallah Sehati brigade.

The attack was the third on a compound used by the Islamist group Ansar al-Shariah. The group is linked to the killing of Ambassador Chris Stevens. Some video footage surfaced yesterday, suggesting that the ambassador was dragged through the streets after being captured.

The militias are a residue of the ragtag rebels that helped depose of the Libyan dictator Moammar Gadaffi. These militias with their mortars and self-propelled rockets are stronger than the Libyan armed forces or police.

The Islamist group Ansar al-Shariah is a radical group, which is notorious for attacking Muslims who don't abide by their hardline ideology.

Protestors, who are largely unarmed, except maybe for AK47s, are no match for these Islamic groups; neither does the Libyan government have the power to exercise control over them.

The former Canadian commander of NATO forces, General Charles Bouchard, who implemented the U.N. No fly zone, addressed this issue yesterday during an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

He said that the terror attack on the U.S. Consulate and subsequent killing of Ambassador Stevens are indicative of a government not yet fully in control.

“We just had a recent election, a new prime minister has been appointed, and he faces many, many challenges," Bouchard said.

With the many militia groups that helped to defeat Gadaffi's military, it is no surprise that they would want a piece of the pie. This is indeed a challenge for the newly elected Libyan government.

While the Libyan government and its security forces don't have the ability to control or disarm these groups, it is also difficult to see how unarmed protesters can make any headway.

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An armed man inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi, Libya on September 11
An armed man inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi, Libya on September 11
Karl Gotthardt is based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and is an Anchor for Allvoices.
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