05/14/2013, 00.00
LIBYA
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Benghazi in revolt against Islamists following deadly attack

The attack targeted a hospital and destroyed several buildings: death toll continues to rise. It is the first act of violence against civilian targets after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. Thousands take to the streets to demand an end to the government and the expulsion of the Islamist militias. The Pentagon sends 500 marines to the NATO base in Sigonella (Sicily, Italy).

Benghazi (AsiaNews) - 15 people are dead and dozens injured following an attack that took place yesterday afternoon in the center of Benghazi in front of a hospital. It was the first against a civilian target since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, in September 2011. The bomb, placed inside a vehicle, completely destroyed some hospital rooms, a restaurant and other buildings. So far no group has claimed responsibility for the act, but authorities suspect the carnage is the work of Islamist militias already responsible for 'September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate.

Since yesterday evening, hundreds of people are stationed in front of the car bomb crater and near the Tibisti Hotel. Other demonstrations were held in various cities of eastern Libya to express solidarity with the people of Benghazi and ask the government to provide greater security and the expulsion of Islamist militias, who for months  have hindered any return to normalcy in the country. In October, 2012, tens of thousands of people took to the streets of the city protesting against the hegemony of the Islamic guerrillas.

AsiaNews sources describe a chaotic scenario that could lead to a civil war. The country is divided in two: Cyrenaica is fighting against the rise of Islamist militias, while in Tripoli there are clashes between the tribes supporters of Gaddafi and the rebels architects of the revolution of 2011.

In recent weeks, Benghazi was the scene of four attacks on police stations. However, these acts have always occurred in the early hours of the morning or at night and did not involve civilians. Episodes of violence have also taken place in Tripoli. On April 23, a car bomb exploded in front of the French embassy wounding two guards and other residents. For fear of a new wave of attacks, Britain has withdrawn part of its diplomatic staff, after days of tension between the central government and rebel groups that occupied the Foreign and the Interior Ministries in protest against non-payment of wages and subsidies and corruption cases attributed to former regime officials. This has prompted the government to pass a law that prohibits those who have held high office under the dictatorship of Gaddafi to be part of the institutions. Many members of the executive led by Ali Zidane are among those banned.

The climate of tension has prompted the U.S. government to send about 500 Marines to the NATO base in Sigonella (Sicily, Italy). Last night, George Little, Pentagon spokesman said the U.S. government is "ready to respond, if necessary, in the event of a worsening of the situation or if called on by the Libyan government." (S.C.)

 

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