Libyan Opposition Orders Militias To Disband

Posted July 30th, 2011 at 5:40 pm (UTC-5)
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The head of Libya's Transitional National Council says the opposition group has ordered all militia factions to disband and come under its control in the wake of the murder of the group's military chief.

Mustafa Abdel Jalil announced the decision on Saturday after military chief Abdel Fattah Younes and two of his aides were gunned down on their way to Benghazi on Thursday.

Younes had been part of leader Moammar Gadhafi's inner circle before joining the rebels, but Jalil denied reports that he may have been killed for suspected treason.

The TNC says it has formed a committee to investigate the deaths and that several people have been questioned. Another opposition member said the TNC has named Suleiman Mahmud al-Obeidi as its interim military chief.

In a separate development on Saturday, the Libyan government said three journalists were killed in a NATO airstrike on a state television station.

NATO says it bombed three Libyan satellite dishes in the capital, Tripoli, in an effort to prevent Mr. Gadhafi from using state television to intimidate civilians. A NATO spokesman said the strike was “necessary,” because Mr. Gadhafi used television broadcasts to “oppress and threaten” the Libyan people.

But the Libyan Broadcasting Corporation condemned the attack, saying the station is not a “military target” and that its employees were doing their jobs as journalists and posed no threat.

Libyan state television remained on the air following the strike.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council is ready to release Libyan assets frozen by U.N. sanctions to buy humanitarian aid.

Portugal's U.N. Ambassador Jose Filipe Moraes Cabral, who chairs the Libya sanctions committee, said the panel is ready to act as soon as it receives a formal request for the funds.

Both the Gadhafi government and the TNC have asked the United Nations for access to the assets in order to purchase much-needed medicine and other humanitarian supplies.