Security Incidents Rattle Libya

Libya Security
Libya has seen sporadic violence flare up in recent weeks

AFRICANGLOBE – The Libyan interior ministry said on Sunday (March 10th) that it would provide full security for Libya’s General National Congress (GNC).

Interior Minister Ashour Shuwail previously stated that security for congress was the responsibility of the assembly’s own guards. News of the shift comes in the wake of a number of attacks on political leaders in the capital and elsewhere.

In one of the latest incidents, hundreds of demonstrators attacked lawmakers last week in attempt to force passage of the Political Isolation law, which would ban former Gaddafi officials from serving in government. GNC President Mohamed Magarief came under fire as he drove away from the scene.

Bullets smashed the side windows of the president’s vehicle but failed to penetrate a second internal glass shield. The car was also equipped with run-flat tyres.

On Saturday, Magarief declared in a press conference along with a number of deputies that the parliament refuses views dictated by force, and refuses that its meetings take place under the pressure of arms and terrorism.

“It is not the right of a group of Libyans to claim to speak on behalf of all Libyans, nor to resort to tactics that are not peaceful and threaten to lead the country into a tunnel, an abyss and sedition. Libyans have only the right to express themselves with peaceful civilised manners,” the president said.

The situation in Libya is still unstable despite the fact that the interim government headed by Ali Zidan has prioritised building the army and police forces.

Insecurity has also impacted the country’s economy. Gas exports to Italy were suspended for a week after a tribal clash at the Mellitah Oil and Gas Complex, west of Tripoli. Members of the Zintan militia had exchanged gunfire with armed groups from Zuwara before the Libyan army intervened to quell the violence.

The flow of gas through the Greenstream pipeline was resumed on Friday, according to an official with Italy’s Eni, which jointly owns the complex with Libya’s National Oil Corporation.

Sporadic tribal shootouts have also erupted in southern Libya. Saad el-Orfi, spokesman for the military command of the southern region, said on Sunday that a clash took place in Al-Minshia area of Sabha between the Warfalla and the Qadhadhfa tribes, resulting in a total of three dead and 12 wounded.

He added that the troops of the military command in co-operation with security forces had the situation under control with the help of elders, notables and prominent figures of the region.

In the Nafusa Mountains, the Mashashiya and Guntrar tribes have battled it out over control of Mizdah, about 170km southwest of Tripoli. According to the Red Crescent, thousands of people have been displaced by the violence.

At least five people were killed and fifteen injured in the latest Mizdah skirmish, according to Ibrahim Abu Shaala, the congressman representing the town. He said that shots fired by the Guntrar tribe lasted throughout Sunday morning, along with Grad rockets and tank shells.

Mizdah local council chief Abdul Hakim Badran also reported an exchange of heavy weapons in the town. According to the General Staff of the National Army, troops are moving to the region to separate the two sides.

Meanwhile, this past week witnessed an attack on Alassema TV, which broadcasts from Tripoli, and the brief detention of a group of workers at the station. Alassema resumed broadcasting a few hours after the attack, though some of its equipment was destroyed.

Benghazi has also seen a number of attacks by rogue gunmen. Two weeks ago, an unknown group of people attacked a church in Benghazi, which drew condemnations from residents.

Fatima Mansour, 43, a primary school teacher, said those who attacked the Egyptian church were “an irresponsible group that only represents a few people”.

“They didn’t show what their goals were behind this individual act. As a people, we respect all religions, and we’re against the assault on the church vicar, Rev. Paula, and his assistant,” she said.

Moussa Ali said, “The attack was carried out by extremists who give themselves a license to trample on the blood of their citizens, let alone Christians’ blood. Their behaviour is against the teachings of Islam, norms, human rights and divine religions.”

“This is an unacceptable behaviour, and I strongly condemn it,” commented Nozha Saeed al-Mansouri, chief editor of al-Watan Libya newspaper, Rest magazine, and a programme host on Libya al-Watan radio station.

She blamed “parties who aim to undermine security and disrupt relations with Egypt”.

Leila Sheikh, a government engineer in Tripoli, said that last week was very difficult and troublesome.

“I hope that Mr. Zidan achieves the priorities of his government or resign. We are tired of promises and speeches, disrespect of human rights, kidnapping and murders,” she said.


By;  Essam Mohamed