By Ahmed Elumami and Maha Ellawati.
Tripoli/Benghazi, 9 June 2013:
The Prime Minister, Ali Zeidan, has described the yesterday’s killings in Benghazi a . . .[restrict]tragedy for the whole country.
The events, he said, represented a “sad and painful” day and the loss of “any Libyan life” was a burden for the entire nation.
“What happenedi is a tragic loss not just to Benghazt but to the whole country and I ask everyone to have patience and restraint in a bid to end the bloodshed. Fighting has to stop; it only results in loss,” he said in a statement today about the killings which occurred when protestors demonstrated outside the headquarters of the Libya Shield No. 1 battalion. They were demanding the battalion be disbanded and that there be only two security organisations in the country: the army and the police.
In his statement, the Prime Minister stressed that Congress, the government and all the Libyan authorities understood the demand that security be under control of army and police.
Zeidan also thanked those who had secured the base and its heavy weapons, and those who “extinguished the crisis”. Investigations by the public prosecutor and the Ministry of Interior were underway, he said.
For its part, the General National Congress suspended its regular Sunday session today in order to give time to members to debate the incident and decide whether any instructions should be issued by Congress in response to the tragedy.
A number of Benghazi Congress members joined Benghazi Local Council members and the families of the victims at the funeral in Hawari Cemetery. Neither the Prime Minister, the Chief of Staff Major General Yousef Mangoush nor the new Interior Minister Mohamed Al-Sheikh attended. However, the Prime Minister has ordered the Minister of Health, Nurideen Doughman to ensure proper treatment for the wounded.
In a separate statement, the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) called for restraint after the Benghazi violence, urging Libyans to resolve their differences peacefully.
The Candian Ambassador Michael Grant also issued a statement offering his country’s condolences to the family and friends of those who died, adding that such a loss of innocent lives was unacceptable. Canada, he said, called on the Libyan government “to conduct a proper investigation, ensure those responsible face justice and increase efforts to improve security for all Libyans”.
Meanwhile further details are emerging of what happened yesterday..
“I personally contacted eye-witnesses who were at the heart of the incident and they assured to me that Deraa Battalion (Libya Shield) was the first to fire,” Benghazi Congresswoman Suad Al-Gadairi (National Forces Alliance) told the Libya Herald.
“Eye-witnesses have also confirmed to me that the protesters were unarmed and they were forced to call for arms after being attacked,” she stated.
Those in the battalions had to join “the legitimacy of the state” – the army of the police – as individuals not as battalions, she insisted, comparing the Libya Shield forces to Qaddafi’s notorious Fadeel Buomar Battalion. It was in Benghazi at the beginning of the revolution which it tried to brutally suppress.
Benghazi Congress members from across the political divide have rallied to condemn what happened. Benghazi Congresswoman Huda Abdulatif Banani (J&C) told the Libya Herald that they had demanded an investigation committee be set up to establish the facts.
There were too many rumours, Banani said, and the committee should work away from the media. It was biased and did not tell the events as they are, she declared.
With input from Nihal Zaroug [/restrict]