By Ayman Amzein and Noora Ibrahim.
Benghazi, 17 January 2014:
An explosives disposal expert was killed in Benghazi today and three of his . . .[restrict]colleagues seriously wounded when a bomb which they were defusing blew up. The device had been left in a bag at a cigarette kiosk in the city’s Kish district.
It is being suggested that Colonel Rageb Hassan Mahana Elabbar, married with five children and an experienced disposal expert, was deliberately targeted. His family have told the Libya Herald that he had receivedv a number of threats against his life from anonymous sources in recent months but had continued working regardless, refusing to be intimidated and putting his trust in God.
According to them, he received an anonymous call yesterday that there was a bomb in Al-Kish; the precise location was given. When he arrived with his colleagues, the bomb exploded. It is said to have been detonated by remote control. The blast, at about 4pm, was so powerful that his body is said to have been blown to pieces.
His three colleagues have been named as Farid Al-Saaiti, Ali Al-Shweidi and Fathi Al-Houderi.
There have been several violent attacks on cigarette kiosks over the past year, mainly in Benghazi and Derna, some being blown up, others burned down. Salafists, who view smoking as haram, are widely seen as being behind the attacks.
There have been a number of fatwas against cigarette and shisha smoking across the Muslim world on the basis that it is harmful to health. The Grand Mufti, Sheikh Sadek Al-Ghariani, has also spoken against it but has not made any formal pronouncement.
Seven weeks ago, a cigarette stall was blown up in Benghazi’s Zawiya district (formally known as Al-Fatah). Again, the device, said to consist of about 5 kilos of explosive, was left in a bag. On that occasion there were no casualties, the explosion having happened in the middle of the night. [/restrict]