Libya: Benghazi Police Mutiny After U.S. Envoy Killed

U.S. consulate in Benghazi
The damaged U.S. consulate in Benghazi

Libyan police in Benghazi have mutinied and refuse to serve under the man appointed by the government to take over security following last week’s storming of the U.S. consulate in which the ambassador and three other Americans were killed.

With no one clearly in charge in Libya’s second city and major oil port, the officer named by the government in Tripoli to replace both Benghazi’s police chief and the deputy interior minister responsible for the eastern region told reporters that he had asked for the army to be sent in if he could not start work.

But as the appointee, Salah Doghman, spoke late on Tuesday, police threatened to walk out en masse if the leadership switch was forced through and accused central government in the capital of making local officials scapegoats for its own failures.

Meanwhile, a senior U.S. intelligence official told lawmakers Wednesday that the slain U.S. ambassador and three other Americans died “in the course of a terrorist attack.”

Matthew Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Centre, said “the facts that we have now indicate that this was an opportunistic attack,” in which heavily armed militants took advantage of an ongoing demonstration at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.

The picture that is emerging is one where a number of different individuals were involved, so it’s not necessarily an either/or proposition,” Olsen told a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told Olsen she sharply disagreed that the attack did not appear to be planned.