Libya President Orders Disbanding of Illegal Militias

Posted September 23rd, 2012 at 9:55 am (UTC-5)
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Libya's interim leader has ordered the disbanding of all unauthorized militias, following large-scale protests and growing public anger over their existence.

National Assembly President Mohammed el-Magarief vowed to dissolve all militias and military camps operating outside the control of the state. His announcement came after authorities took control of militia bases in the eastern city of Benghazi Saturday following fighting that left 11 people dead and more than 60 others wounded.

Those clashes outside the jihadist militia compounds followed large-scale protests Friday in which tens of thousands of Libyans marched through Benghazi, demanding the dissolution of the militant groups.

The protesters ousted the jihadist militia Ansar al-Shariah from its headquarters, and seized the bases of other armed militias in Benghazi.

Ansar al-Shariah has been linked to the assault that killed four Americans at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi earlier this month, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. The group denies the allegation.

The attack on the consulate coincided with protests against an anti-Islam video produced by some private individuals in the United States.

Since the fall of Moammar Gadhafi, the militias have grown stronger — boasting arsenals of automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and pick-up trucks with heavy machine guns.