Libyans Protest Despite Pleas
Hundreds in Tripoli rallied against Libya's militias today, despite calls from religious leaders to stand down. The protesters are demanding that the militias disband following increased tension with other Libyans.
Imams are concerned that challenging the militias would ignite violence between the armed groups and the government and restart the violence from the recent war. However, protesters call for the creation of a national army and more unity. Police are on high alert to handle the protests, and supporters of the militias plan to launch counter-demonstrations.
Protests are coming out of the attack on the United States consulate in Benghazi on September 11 that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens. The American government ruled the attack as a planned terrorist strike, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said that al-Qaida had a hand in it.
During last year's civil war with Moammar Gaddafi, a number of militias emerged to fight the regime, many from the south and west of the country. A formal rebel army never emerged, leaving the victors with a mix of fighters across the country. Libya's provisional government has had minor clashes with the militias throughout the last year, but the attack on the consulate led to escalated tensions.
Earlier this week, activists in Benghazi, participating in a government-sponsored protest, dismantled a pair of militias in the city. One of those groups, Ansar al-Sharia (sharing its name from a group in Mali) is tied to the attack on the consulate. Protesters in Tripoli said that they want to similarly disarm the capital's armed groups, Al Jazeera English reported.
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