Fri Oct 18, 2013 3:0PM
Armed groups operate a checkpoint in Benghazi on May 16, 2013.

Armed groups operate a checkpoint in Benghazi on May 16, 2013.

Gunmen have shot and killed a top Libyan military commander in the volatile eastern city of Benghazi, security sources say. Local security officials say Ahmed al-Bar-Ghathi was shot by assailants while he was leaving home to attend Friday prayers. Rescue workers and medics say he was taken to a hospital but succumbed to his injuries. Benghazi is the cradle of a revolution which toppled Libya’s long-time dictator Muammar Ghaddafi in 2011. But the city has been hit with a wave of insecurity and violence since last year. The violence has reached foreign missions and Libyan nationals alike. Benghazi is largely governed by militias in the absence of unified Libyan security and military forces. The former rebels refuse to lay down their arms, despite efforts by the central government to impose law and order. Over the past few months, the capital city of Tripoli and its suburbs have also been hit by violent clashes between rival militias who participated in the 2011 uprising. Meanwhile, a blockade by armed groups on key Libyan oilfields and terminals has paralyzed the country’s oil industry, choking output to a tenth of normal levels. Guards working with the oil industry have been on strike since July and imposed a blockade on oilfields and terminals. Many armed militants and defected soldiers have also joined the guards in their campaign against the government. The Libyan government is importing fuel to keep power stations running and queues are growing at petrol stations across the country. Libyans rose up against Gaddafi’s four-decade-long rule in February 2011 and deposed him in August 2011. The ruler was killed on October 20 of the same year. JR/AB
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