By George Grant.
Tripoli, 18 September:
The US Embassy has issued a brief statement thanking Libyans for the help they provided in the . . .[restrict]aftermath of the 11 September attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi.
Several Libyans were wounded in the assault, which left four Americans dead including US Ambassador Chris Stevens.
“We thank all the Libyans in Benghazi and Tripoli who helped us in our most difficult moments last week, and a special heartfelt thank you to those in Benghazi who participated in the rescue attempt”, the US Embassy said, in a statement issued in Arabic on its official Facebook page.
The rescue attempt refers to an effort by a group of Libyan men to rescue Ambassador Stevens from the burned-out consulate, captured in an amateur video.
Since last Tuesday, Libyans both at home and abroad have staged protests and vigils in memory of the dead, and have called on the government to bring those responsible to justice.
Both Prime Minister-elect Mustafa Abushagur and National Congress Speaker Mohammed Magarief have said the crime will not go unpunished and have vowed to address the militia problem in Libya.
Last week, a senior advisor to Abushagur told the Libya Herald that the militant Islamist brigade believed to be responsible for the attack, Ansar Al-Sharia, would be disbanded, by force if necessary.
“We are negotiating to dismantle it,” the source said. “We don’t want bloodshed but if they do not agree we will have to use force.
So far, at least 12 people have been arrested in connection with the attacks, with 50 targeted for investigation, according to Interior Minister Fawzi Abdelal.
Questions are also being asked of the security forces, however, not least how it was that the militants came to know of the location of a safe house close to the US Consulate, in which two Americans were subsequently killed.
On Sunday, Deputy Interior Minister Wanis Al-Sharif was sacked over his handling of the affair, having issued numerous false accounts of events, including claims that nobody was inside the consulate when it was first set upon. [/restrict]