By Umar Khan.
Tripoli, 8 May:
One security official was killed and four others injured when armed protestors tried to force their way inside the Prime Minister’s offices on Tuesday morning. The official killed was a member of the the Interior Ministry’s Supreme Security Committee (SSC). He has been named as Ali Meilood Al-Gaoud. He was part of the forces who had been sent by the Ministry of Interior to guard the PM’s office building and the surrounding after the protests were reported.
Three of the wounded were also members of the SSC forces. The fourth was one of the protestors.
Later in the evening Prime Minister Abdurrahim Al-Kib went on television to denounce the attackers as “outlaws”. They were not real thuwar who had fought last year, he said. They were frauds who were not entitled to the cash payout being made to revolutionaries. He said he would not bow to threats made by such people. The government will not, he said, “give in to blackmail or to outlaws and will not negotiate under the threat of force”.
The fighting started when a group of men, mainly from Yefren and Kikla, staged a protest on the non-payment of the promised revolutionaries’ cash handout by the government. According to eyewitnesses, they were the same people who had besieged the prime minister’s office last week. At the time he told them that they would all be paid by Thursday. In the meantime, however, the government decided that the money promised to the thuwar would be paid by 26 May, not in cash but into bank accounts.
There were a few other demands today, such as improved quality of treatment for the wounded, release of prisoners from the Qaddafi’s time and investigations into missing persons.
Eyewitnesses say there were in fact two demonstrations today. The first was by former prisoners of the Qaddafi regime. It started around 9 am. Then the Yefren and Kikla protestors arrived, blocking the road.
Government spokesman, Nasir Al-Mana, told a press conference that he was inside the building when the firing started. He also said that the protestors armed with light and heavy weapons tried to storm the building and that the security official was killed while doing his duty.
“There were almost 200 armed protestors with 50 vehicles. Some of the vehicles were confiscated and 14 of the armed protestors were arrested,” said Mana,
“Real fighters don’t indulge in such incidents, but fight to protect the people, state and its institutions.” He also added that “it’s important that we learn lessons from incidents like today. Investigation will be launched to uncover the facts behind today’s event.”
Ali Meilood, the security officer killed was one of many trying to stop the armed protestors from entering the offices. According to eyewitnesses, he jumped onto a 14.5mm anti-aircraft gun to deter the armed protestors from storming the governmental headquarters. The armed protestors shot at him when he aimed the weapon on them. Three other security officials and one of the protestors were injured during the incident.
Friends of the killed officer put the blame for the incident on the lack of training for the security personnel by the ministry and said that it is a clear example that he (Ali) did not knew how to deal with such protests. They said officials should make sure that security personnel were decently equipped and well trained to tackle such incidents to avoid them in the future.
The surrounding area was finally opened to the traffic around 5 pm as it was initially closed because of the heavy firing.
There was heavy presence of security officials under the Ministry of Interior as well as the fighters from the local area military council.
Al Gaoud’s funeral tomorrow is expected to see large pro-government protests.
Umar Khan can be found at twitter.com/umarnkhan