By Noora Ibrahim and Moutaz Ahmed.
Benghazi, 10 May 2014:
Three protestors were shot dead in Benghazi early this morning outside the headquarters . . .[restrict]of the 17 February Brigade. Another 20 were injured. Four were taken to the city’s Jalaa hospital, were one is in a critical condition, according to the hospital’s spokesperson. Sixteen were taken to the Benghazi Medical Centre.
The three dead have been named as Najeeb Al-Athram, aged 24; Muftah Al-Madani, 20; and Fathi Al-Sbeihi, 22. The injured at Jelaa hospital are Mohammed Essa Tuwair, 17; Khaled Mohamed Al-Orafi, 46; Sanad Abdussalam Al-Agouri, 21; and Musa Idris Al-Sahli, 18.
The protestors had gone to the brigade’s headquarters after shots were fired yesterday afternoon at them while they were demonstrating outside the Tibesti Hotel over the security situation in the city. They were convinced that the gunmen were members of the brigade.
As with so many other similar incidents in Benghazi the exact circumstances of what happened are confusing and it is impossible to say who killed the demonstrators.
As they headed to the headquarters at the end of Venezia Street at about 7.30pm, ignoring warnings from the Benghazi Joint Security Room not to do so. Shortly afterwards, as dusk fell, the lights in the area were turned off.
For around two and a half hours they chanted slogans outside the gates of the brigade, which is headed by Ismail Salabi, such as “We don’t want you here”, “No to militias” and “All we need are the police and the army”. According to one of the protestors, there was then shooting of automatic rifles in the air from inside the headquarters, in “an attempt to scare us off”. Another report says that the shooting was proceeded by an explosion, possibly from anti aircraft missile fired from inside the base..
Saiqa forces are then said to have arrived some time before midnight, both to protect the demonstrators but also warning them to leave. Some refused, remaining outside the brigade gates.
At around 1am there was more shooting, this time at the protestors, killing the three and wounding the others. All were outside the gates of the headquarters.
At present, however, it is not known in the darkness where the shooting came from.