Tripoli, 21 December:
The Army’s General Command today urged residents, governors and police forces in Benghazi to show self-restraint after an attack . . .[restrict]on the Security Directorate in Al-Hawari killed four people last night.
In a statement published by Libyan news agency LANA, the General Staff warned against paying heed to “rumours” surrounding the attack, adding that there were “people who want to exploit the circumstances and opportunities to inflame the situation for their own goals which could harm the security of the state.”
Major General Yusuf Al-Mangoush, army chief of staff, also issued orders to his units in Benghazi to “continue with their security mission” across the city.
Yesterday, the Libya Herald reported that two members of the security forces were killed after clashes with members of an armed group during a demonstration calling for the release of a prisoner believed to have been detained in the building.
However, the Security Directorate issued a statement late last night giving further details about the incident.
According to the statement, demonstrators met outside the building to call for the release of two prisoners they believed were being held there.
Colonel Salah Buhlaiga, of the mobile security force, went outside the station to hear their demands, but the discussion quickly became an argument and Buhlaiga was wounded by a rock thrown by one of the crowd.
Armed members of the group then fired on the Security Directorate with small arms and RPGs, leaving one policeman, one soldier and two attackers dead. At least 16 other people were admitted to the Benghazi medical centre after the incident.
The General Security Directorate statement obtained by LANA also said that members of the armed group had dispersed throughout the area and opened fire on Mobile Security units nearby, wounding two soldiers and six other members of the security forces. Three civilians who were in the area when the attacks started were also reportedly killed and another eight wounded.
It is understood that one of the detainees whose release protestors were calling for was the man arrested last week in connection with the assassination of former police chief Faraj Drissi.
Drissi was shot dead outside his house by assailants in a car, and his death was part of a string of killings targeting security officials in the city, in what some have described as an organised campaign of assassinations. [/restrict]