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Benghazi violence: assassinations and lawlessness as Benina clashes continue

[cml_media_alt id='6261']men carrying a coffin[/cml_media_alt]

Violence has continued in Benghazi in the aftermath of Friday’s unprecedented wave of murders with the killing of a an imam and an activist.

Local activist Ali Al-Misrati was shot and killed by unknown assailants outside Shebna Mosque yesterday. He was taken to Benghazi Medical Centre (BMC) where he was pronounced dead on arrival. The city is still reeling from the deaths  of 18-year-old blogger and activist Tawfiq Bensaud and his 17-year-old friend Sami Al-Kwafi, also an activist, who were killed along with eight others on Friday.

Sheikh Salim Bayu, a Salafist imam at the Saud Bin Zama Mosque was shot and killed in Hay Salem as he left Isha prayers last night. A colleague of Bayu was also caught up in the attack. He is receiving treatment at BMC and said to be in a critical condition. Religious leaders, particularly Salafists, have been targeted in assassinations in recent months.

Head of Saiqa Special Forces Investigations Unit Fadel Al-Hassi told the Libya Herald that kidnappings and assassinations in Benghazi had reached “unbelievably dangerous levels”. He said that assassins were able to carry out attacks with complete impunity and that residents needed to be wary of fake checkpoints which have been used by gunmen as a pretext to stop and then kill their targets.

He warned that individuals should not risk being out of their homes after dark.

In a sign of the increasing lawlessness in Benghazi, LD 132,000 was robbed today from  the Commerce and Development Bank branch in Hadaiq district. Local residents reported that masked gunmen had entered the bank, cajoling customers with their weapons before making off with the cash.

Fighting in the hotspots of Buatni and Gwarsha, the source of much of the city’s instability, has continued in recent days. The clashes, which erupted in Buatni at the end of Ramadan, appear to have reached a stalemate with neither Ansar Al-Sharia nor Operation Dignity able to take the upper hand.

Despite several attempts by Ansar and its allies to take hold of Benina Airport and a nearby air defence base, they have been repulsed each time. Now the Islamist group seems more intent on destroying the Benina, firing long-range grad missiles and mortars towards it.

Operation Dignity responds to the attacks with airstrikes on Ansar’s positions in Buatni and Gwarsha, as local residents look on.

Article by Noora Ibrahim, Libya Herald.

This article was originally published here.


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