A crackdown on militias started in Benghazi, Libya, on Saturday, continued to Sunday, spreading to the capital, Tripoli, following protests about the attack on the US consulate in Beghazi on 11 September.
On Friday, several anti-militia protests were held in Benghazi in response to the death of the US ambassador, Chris Stevens, and several others. Their deaths in the attack were blamed on the milita, Ansar Al-Sharia, which denies any involvement. Protesters stormed militia bases, leaving 11 dead, over seventy wounded and several militias expelled.
On Saturday, Libya’s state-run LANA news agency reported the government gave “all individuals and armed groups occupying military barracks, public buildings or property belonging to members of the former regime… to evacuate these sites within 48 hours,” or force would be used.
The government intends to remove all “non-sanctioned militias,” meaning those that have not been absorbed into the country’s security institutions.
Militias formed during the civil war have continued operating due to the security vacuum left following the ousting of former leader Muammar Gaddafi.
According to AFP, the Facebook page of Libyan army chief of staff, Yussef Al-Mangush, declared a militia was removed from a military training complex on the highway to Tripoli International Airport, arresting members and confiscating their weapons.
“We will carry out these kind of operations for the next two or three weeks until we dislodge all armed groups not under the authority of the state,” an army officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.
So far no casualties of the government operation have been reported, despite the militias being well-armed. Mohammed Al-Megaryef, head of the national assembly, announced the creation of an “operations room” in Benghazi which will also include the army, interior ministry forces and government sanctioned brigades, in order to run the operation, AFP reported.