Islamist militia swept out of Benghazi

2012-09-22 12:05

Benghazi - The powerful Islamist militia Washington blames for an attack on its Benghazi consulate was swept from its heavily fortified bases in Libya's second city in a mass popular uprising in support of the government early on Saturday.

The action against Ansar al-Shariah appeared to be part of a coordinated sweep of militia headquarters buildings by police, government troops and activists following a mass public demonstration against militia units on Friday.

At least four people were killed and 34 wounded, hospital sources said, as militants fought demonstrators. Gunfire could be heard in the area before the fighters were forced out.

Looters carried weapons out of the vacated Ansar al-Shariah military base compound as men clapped and chanted: "Say to Ansar al-Shariah, Benghazi will be your inferno."

Ansar al-Shariah has been linked to the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi last week in which the US ambassador to Libya and three other Americans died. It denies involvement.

Chanting "Libya, Libya", "No more al-Qaeda!" and "The blood we shed for freedom shall not go in vain!" hundreds of men waving swords and even a meat cleaver, stormed Ansar al-Shariah's headquarters in Benghazi.

"After what happened at the American consulate, the people of Benghazi had enough of the extremists," demonstrator Hassan Ahmed said. "They did not give allegiance to the army. So the people broke in and they fled."

Demonstrators pulled down militia flags and set a vehicle on fire inside what was once the base of former leader Muammar Gaddafi's security forces who tried to put down the first protests that sparked last year's uprising.

"This place is like the Bastille. This is where Gaddafi controlled Libya from, and then Ansar al-Shariah took it over. This is a turning point for the people of Benghazi," said Ahmed.

Adusalam al-Tarhouni, a government worker, who arrived with the first wave of protesters, said several pickup trucks with the group's fighters had initially confronted the protesters and opened fire. Two protesters were shot in the leg, he said.

"After that they got into their trucks and drove away," he said. Protesters had freed four prisoners found inside, he said.

As protesters left Ansar al-Shariah's headquarters, the crowd swelled, reaching thousands as it headed toward the Islamists' military base, which was shared with another militia group.

Protesters said the militiamen opened fire as they arrived and several people were wounded.

"We came as peaceful protesters. When we got there they started shooting at us," student Sanad al-Barani said. "Five people were wounded beside me. They used 14.5 mm machineguns."

After the crowd entered that compound, Libyan army trucks sped away from the base carrying government troops cheering in victory and crying out, "God is greatest".

Vigilantes armed with machetes and clubs blocked the highway leading away from the compound, stopping cars to prevent looters from driving off with heavy weapons.

"We went into the camp and we didn't find anyone. We just took these Kalashnikovs," said one youth, holding rifles.

The demonstrators also took over a compound belonging to the Abu Slim brigade and another Ansar al-Shariah compound.

The apparent defeat of Ansar al-Shariah across Benghazi and the huge outpouring of public support for the government marks an extraordinary transformation in a country where the authorities had seemed largely powerless to curb the influence of militia groups armed with heavy weapons.

Nevertheless, Ansar al-Shariah and other Islamist militia have bases elsewhere in eastern Libya, notably around the coastal city of Derna, known across the region as a major recruitment centre for fighters who joined the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.

Rescue Benghazi

Thousands of Libyans had marched in Benghazi on Friday in support of democracy and against the Islamist militias that Washington blames for the assault on its consulate. Hundreds of Ansar al-Shariah supporters held their own protest.

Friday's "Rescue Benghazi day" demonstration called for the government to disband armed groups that have refused to give up their weapons since the Nato-backed revolution last year.

"It's obvious that this protest is against the militias. All of them should join the army or security forces as individuals, not as groups," student Ahmed Sanallah said.

"Without that there will be no prosperity and no success for the new Libya."

Although the main demands of the marchers did not mention the attack on the U.S. consulate, it seems to have provided a strong impetus for the authorities to rally support behind the country's weak government.

US ambassador Christopher Stevens was well liked, and many Libyans condemned the attack on the consulate despite being angered by the anti-Islamic US-made film that triggered it.

Some protesters' placards read: "We demand justice for Stevens" and "Libya lost a friend". Others had mixed views.

"I am out today to defend Benghazi. Killing the ambassador is a completely separate thing," said 26-year-old Amjad Mohammed Hassan, a network engineer.

"I don't give a damn about the killing of the ambassador because the Americans offended the Prophet. I am just here for Benghazi."

Benghazi, 1 000km from Tripoli across largely empty desert, is controlled by various armed groups, including some comprised of Islamists who openly proclaim their hostility to democratic government and the West.

Some are identified by local people as being among those who were at the consulate protest last week. US officials have described the violence as a "terrorist attack."

Abu Al-Qaa, a demonstrator at the Ansar al-Shariah demonstration, said Stevens had been "preparing for the entry of American troops into Libya".

"The will of the Prophet was to expel infidels from Muslim lands so that Muslims prevail. Terrorising your enemy is one of Islam's tenets." He said he had fought US troops in Iraq where he was arrested, sent back to Libya and jailed for three years.

One banner at the Ansar al-Shariah demonstration read: "Day to rescue Benghazi or day to rescue America?"

  • Gorden Park - 2012-09-22 14:12

    why are there no more comment's on the two Islamic stories. Is News 24 islamic owned

      johnny.williams.5682944 - 2012-09-22 17:08

      Jewish-owned - isn't that obvious?

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-22 17:29

      You're a stupid racist Johnny. This is a South African website, and its 2012.

  • oupadup - 2012-09-22 14:13

    I did not read the rest of the story, but the opening paragraph does not make sense at all?

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-22 16:43

      Basically 30,000 Libyans took to the streets to protest against Islamic fundamentalism and expressed sorrow about the death of the US embassy staff, and gratitude to them and the US.

      jans.opresser - 2012-09-22 23:43

      thats not true fred.these people are protesting so that they wont get bombed. remember,benghazi was not bombed by nato during it illegal overthrow of gadaffi. these people are simply trying to save their own hides now. the US consulate is american soil,and killing stevens and attacking the consulate is an act of war! thse people know that, and dont want patriot and tomohawk cruise missiles raining down on them!

      shaik.spear.1 - 2012-09-23 06:42

      oupadup, i applaude you for not jumping to a biased conclusion but that you rather asked for clarification! Fred can learn a lot from you! Jans to the point explanation puts it in a nutshell for you!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-23 20:32

      It's hard to imagine a more delusional version of reality. Wow, that's way out there.

  • AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-09-22 17:29

    The Libyan people have had enough of violence First 30 years if tyranny by these gaddafi thugs, than a difficult battle to get rid of these gaddafies once and for all. And now some pockets of terrorists left. The Libyan people will get rid of these criminal scumbags!!! FOR SURE !!!

  • jans.opresser - 2012-09-22 19:50

    Chanting "Libya, Libya", "No more al-Qaeda!" and "The blood we shed for freedom shall not go in vain!" hundreds of men waving swords and even a meat cleaver, stormed Ansar al-Shariah's headquarters in Benghazi. well fred and anthony21st century liar,what do you have to say for yourselves now? told you the rebels were al-qaeda all along didnt I? now they are turning on the real citizens of libya to show them who removed gadaffi! it was not libyans who removed gadaffi it was these foreign jihadist. now a REAL civil war might break out over there any moment now! all of yoru lies were for naught,just as I told you they would be! poor libya,about to become somalia northwest!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-22 19:59

      You're still looking through the black-and-white lenses of an adolescent, Jans. Jihadists are a minority in Libya. Look to North Mali if you want to see a region being dominated by Al-Quaida.

      shaik.spear.1 - 2012-09-22 21:28

      jans, as in most of these cases, after the propoganda has lost its effect and the TRUTH surfaces the real facts stands tall for all to see. Whilst many has cited a third force, false flag ops, black ops and western covert complicity in these orchestrated unrest and killing of civilians! There have been a small number that have consistently denied western involvement with bloody hands! The truth has prevailed yet again! We told them so!!!

      jans.opresser - 2012-09-22 21:51

      no Fred,I am looking at the facts!and the only reason that MALI is being dominated by al-qaeda is becasue the al-qaeda faction from LIBYA gave them gadafi's weapons!same thing with Nigeria!I dont feel sorry for Nigeria at all. their idiot president voted FOR UNR1973 to have gadaffi bombed. and how did those so called freedom fighters of yours in libya repay them? they armed the al-qaeda affilliated group BOKO HARAM to the teeth to kill black Christian nigerians,the same people who you claim are the minority in libya is arming all of africa to destabilize the continent and to take over african countries under the banner of al-qaeda. as I tried to tell you before,IBRAHIM BIN QUMU the former number two man to the late OSAMA BIN LADEN was never trying to remove gadaffi for wetsern democracy! news flash,it ha just ben confirme that the same bin qumu planned the assault and murder of ambassador stevens.

      jans.opresser - 2012-09-22 21:57

      yes shaik.spear...we did. and dont feel sorry for the now late ambassador stevens at all! he knew from DAY ONE that the rebels were al-qaeda! it was stevens who sent the diplomatic cable to DC. stating that "al-qaeda was about to attempt to overthrow the gadaffi govt again,please advise on what to di if they are successfull this time"(they had tried and failed in 06). he was killed by the same people that he had lied for and propped into power. now they are claiming that they have documents that they seized from the US consulate whch clearly states that america was about to OCCUPY LIBYA! stevens got what he deserved!

      jans.opresser - 2012-09-22 22:00

      @fred...... this from reuters! Standing next to charred cars and several pickup trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns, weary armed militiamen guarded the entrance of the Rafallah Sahati compound. The compound was once one of Gadhafi's houses. Some of the men wore military uniforms, while others were dressed in Afghani-style clothes. "Those you call protesters are looters and thieves," said Nour Eddin al-Haddad, a young armed man with hanging a rifle on his back. "We fought for the revolution. We are the real revolutionaries. We are part of the army. I have official documents to prove it." told you fred!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-23 20:36

      Sheik, you're going to wait a long time for your version of the truth to emerge. In the meantime the world will go on and you'll be left behind.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-23 20:37

      Jans, you're wrong. Plain and simple.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-09-24 11:21

      thatdisturbedviolentbrotherfromnewyork ""stevens got what he deserved! "" Lets hope , the Americans take note , of one of their citizens abusing his freedom, in such sick and dispicable way !!!!!

  • jans.opresser - 2012-09-22 22:24

    I don't give a damn about the killing of the ambassador because the Americans offended the Prophet. I am just here for Benghazi." what do you have to say for this fred?

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-09-23 02:29

      Jans, aka, thatbrotherfullofhatredfromnewyork You are just one of these violent loonies of the left who thrives on the misery of others. There is no such thing as a civil war erupting in Libya. Recent elections in Libya, show a very different country, than you would love to portray !! Only in your dumb stupid little violent ,radical world is there space for a terrorist ,like your scum buddy gaddafi. Tough luck for you, he is eating desert sand !!! And what Al-Quada concerns, although they are weaker today than ever, there are some members in many countries of the world. The libyans will get rid of these dogs, like they will in any other country in the world. Rather go and sort some of the racism and hatred out at home, and stay at your side of the Atlantic. We don't need the ones like you here, bloated full of HATRED !!!

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-09-23 07:46

      Jans, aka dhdihbdfofhnfncpswndiebbdcicbiwblkn and your Shaik buddy, You belong to a tiny group of disturbed , violent leftist loonies, who have been LOSERS for the past 60 years, and who will ALWAYS remain LOSERS !!!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-23 20:40

      I think you're being stupid Jans.

      jans.opresser - 2012-09-23 21:43

      fred, no way humanly possible that I am wrong. you see just yesterday after the protest by the people of benghazi the bodies of SIX LIBYAN SOLDIERS were found in the city center of benghazi. they were all handcuffed and shot in the head execution style. and a colonel from the military was kidnapped and presumed dead! all hell is about to break loose over there.

      jans.opresser - 2012-09-23 21:46

      dont know what you are talking about,but no one mentioned racism on this thread but you. go and tell your lies to the six dead libyan soldiers who were found today in benghazi. all of them had been shot in the head execution style after being handcuffed. and a libyan colonel was kidnapped and is now presumed dead. thats what usually happens when al-qaeda abducts a person.

      jans.opresser - 2012-09-23 21:50

      Six members of the security forces were among those killed in the unrest that rocked Libya’s second city, and were apparently “executed,” a medical examiner at the Benghazi Medical Centre morgue told AFP. “From the nature of the wounds it is clear that the six were executed,” she said on condition of anonymity, adding that all six had been shot in the head. “In total we’ve received 11 fatalities” she said, including four bodies in “civilian clothes” and another that was found at the headquarters of Raf Allah al-Sahati, an Islamist militia targeted overnight. The violence erupted late on Friday when hundreds of protesters, some of them armed, attacked bases of paramilitary groups whose militants were former rebels who helped topple Moammar Gadhafi’s regime in last year’s rebellion. The protesters first attacked a group based in a security building in central Benghazi before turning their wrath on the headquarters of Ansar al-Sharia, a radical Salafist militia and the main paramilitary group in the city. you were saying anthony?

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-09-23 22:16

      What I was saying to this 'fullofhatredrubbishfromnewyork; Africa does not need your sick and disturbed hatred, africa despices scumbags like you, and you are not welcome herre, not even for 30 minutes !!! You are bloated full of HATRED and BS, and like all these violent leftist lunatics, you just make up your own crappy stories to entertain you silly buddies. You been wrong about Libya and Egypt for 18 months, and with your silly and childish anti Wester BS, you will ALWAYS be wrong !!!!

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-09-23 22:33

      ""As fires blazed and protesters danced in the ruined compound of a vanquished jihadist militia, I watched as the citizens of the Libyan city of Benghazi staged a dramatic display of raw people power. Numbed by the murder of an American ambassador in their city, furious with jihadist militias lording it over them and frustrated by a government too chaotic and intimidated to react, ordinary Benghazians took matters into their own hands. Elsewhere in the world jihadists staged fiery attacks on foreign targets. ''''''In Libya they were sent running by people power''''''. A rally called to Rescue Benghazi on Friday night became the launch pad for a spontaneous retaking of the streets, and more—a retaking of the soul that saw this city become the cradle of last year's Arab Spring Revolution"" Mail and Guardian You were saying 'thatdisturbedbrotherfullofhatred' ???????

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