Libyan pro-government activists attack militia headquarters (VIDEO, PHOTOS)
Published time: September 21, 2012 21:29
Edited time: September 22, 2012 17:08
A demonstrator stands next to a burning car which the demonstrators set alight and said was full of ammunition as they stormed the HQ of the Islamist Ansar al-Sharia militia group in Benghazi September 21, 2012 (Reuters)
Hundreds of Libyan pro-government demonstrators have stormed the HQ of a radical Salafist group, driving the militiamen out of their last major stronghold in Benghazi. At least four people were killed and 20 wounded in the fighting.
The clashes with Islamists from the Ansar al-Sharia group occurred as tens of thousands took to the streets to rally against militias on Friday.
“Three people are dead. We have also received 20 wounded," AFP reported citing a medical source.
The demonstrators entered the headquarters of the militiamen, setting fire to their building. The incident took place in the city that became the cradle of last year’s uprising against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.
"We entered here to give the place to the national security forces," activist Musaf al-Sheikhy said, according to Reuters.
Protesters take part in a march in Benghazi city, September 21, 2012. Thousands of Libyans marched in Benghazi on Friday in support of democracy and against the Islamist militias that Washington blames for an attack on the U.S. consulate last week that killed four Americans including the ambassador (Reuters / Asmaa Waguih)
The "Rescue Benghazi day" demonstration drew tens of thousands of people discontent with armed Islamist militias.Anger has boiled over with the groups refusing to give up their weapons and repeatedly disobeying the new Libyan government, threatening stability in post-Gaddafi Libya.
“No to armed formations" and "Yes to the Libyan army", read some banners used by demonstrators.
“I don't want to see armed men wearing Afghani-style clothes stopping me in the street to give me orders, I only want to see people in uniform,'' Omar Mohammed, a university student who took part in the takeover of the Islamist headquarters, told AP.
Demonstrators cheer after storming the headquarters of the Islamist Ansar al-Sharia militia group in Benghazi September 21, 2012 (Reuters /Asmaa Waguih)
The activists demanded the central government disband militias and also condemned last week’s attack on the US embassy in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Ansar al-Sharia is accused of leading the assault.
US officials told AP that what may have initially seemed like a protest over an anti-Islam movie that had spun out of control, turns out to have been a more sophisticated operation. On Friday, US officials released details about the assault that indicated thatheavily armed militants stormed the consulate using military-style tactics.
"What happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday. "And we will not rest until we have tracked down and brought to justice the terrorists who murdered four Americans."
Demonstrators celebrate after burning a car they say was full of ammunition as they stormed the headquarters of the Islamist Ansar al-Sharia militia group in Benghazi September 21, 2012 (Reuters /Asmaa Waguih)
Army members talk as they check an armed militia base they stormed with pro-government demonstrators in Benghazi September 21, 2012 (Reuters /Asmaa Waguih)
Libyans wearing traditional clothes and riding horses participate in a protest organised by civic bodies and liberal and moderate political parties demanding the handover of arms by a proliferation of militias, at a main square in Benghazi September 21, 2012 (Reuters / Stringer)
A wounded Libyan man is transported to the hospital after armed demonstrator sstormed the headquarters of the Raf Allah al-Sahati Brigade, a local militia, located at a farm in the Hawari region 15 kilometres (10 miles) from the centre of Benghazi, on September 22, 2012(AFP Photo /Abdullah Doma)
A Libyan demonstrator holds up a gun as others flash the victory sign and a car burns in the background near the headquarters of the hardline Islamist group Ansar el-Sharia on September 21, 2012 in Benghazi, Libya (AFP Photo /Abdullah Doma)
A car burns near the headquarters of the hardline Islamist group Ansar el-Sharia on September 21, 2012 in Benghazi, Libya (AFP Photo /Abdullah Doma)
Photo from Twitter user Ghada
Demonstrators break into the rooms of the headquarters of the Islamist Ansar al-Sharia militia group in Benghazi September 21, 2012 (Reuters /Asmaa Waguih)