Sunday, January 06, 2013

US-backed Rebel Leader in Libya Nearly Assassinated in South

Leader of US-backed Rebel Assembly Almost Assassinated in South

Tripoli, 6 January

Head of the rebel General National Congress (GNC) Mohamed Magarief said last night, Saturday, that the hotel he was staying in on a visit to Sebha was attacked by gunmen who fired at the hotel while he and members of a GNC delegation were present.

Speaking in an interview to Libya Al-Wataniya TV, he said that he heard explosions and gunfire from inside the Sebha hotel, understood to be the Fezzan, late on Friday night.

Magarief’s spokesman, Rasmy Burwein, told Reuters that the GNC head had escaped injury but that three of his guards had been injured in the shooting.

It is still not known if Magarief was the target of the attack. A spokesman for the Defence Ministry, Colonel Adel Al-Barasi, said in a phone interview on Libya TV this evening, Sunday, that that he believed the shooting in Sebha had not been specifically aimed at the US-backed rebel Congress President, but that there had been a clash between two of the town’s tribes while he was present.

Magarief had been on a visit to Sebha to meet with local council members and officials about the security situation in the town after it was declared a closed military zone on 16 December.

In the days leading up to Magarief’s visit, members of the Awlad Suleiman and Qadhadhfa tribes had clashed in the town, leaving several from both sides dead, and a GNC media officer told the Libya Herald on 5 January that Magarief did meet with members of local tribes. He would not, however, confirm that the meeting was connected to the recent clashes in the town.

Libya national assembly president survives ‘assassination attempt’

Mon Jan 7, 2013 12:48AM GMT

The President of Libya's national assembly, Mohammed Megaryef has survived an assault on his hotel in the southern oasis of Sabha.

The assembly chief's spokesman, Rassmi Beruwien said the attack was carried out on Thursday, January 3, and lasted for “three hours,” adding, “There was sniper fire. It seems to have been an assassination attempt.”

Beruwien went on to say that three people “from military security” sustained injuries in the attack “but unfortunately nobody was caught.”

He further said, “Attacking where the president is staying -- that is an assassination attempt."

Meanwhile, Megaryef himself also commented on the incident, saying, "At around 2 a.m. there were explosions and sniper shots at the hotel where we were staying. The exchange of fire lasted about three hours."

Head of Libya's parliament survives assassination attempt

Published: 11:06AM Monday January 07, 2013 Source: Reuters

The head of Libya's parliament has survived an assassination attempt unharmed at his home in the remote desert interior of the country, his spokesman says.

Mohamed al-Magariaf's residence in Sabha, 800km south of the capital Tripoli, came under gunfire on Thursday evening.

"(He) was unharmed and escaped the attack but three of his guards were injured," spokesman Rasmy Burwein said.

Magariaf was in Sabha for meetings with local officials and community leaders after Tripoli declared the region a closed military zone to try to curb rampant lawlessness.

Sabha and the rest of the Saharan south has been plagued by tribal violence since the start of the armed uprising in 2011 that ousted and killed veteran Pan-African revolutionary Muammar Gaddafi.

Tribal power is much stronger in the south than on the Mediterranean coast. Porous borders with neighbouring states and the easy availability of arms have turned the south into a security headache for a weak central government.

It is still struggling to curb a myriad of armed militias that emerged powerful from the anti-Gaddafi insurgency.

Thousands sign up for police training

Meanwhile, almost 6000 gunmen have begun training to be policemen under a drive to disarm militias hindering Libya's counter-revolutionary transition.

Ashour Shuail, a soft-spoken former professor of law, took charge of Libya's most formidable domestic policy challenge - establishing a legitimate, effective national police - late last year after his appointment by new Prime Minister Ali Zeidan as the country's interior minister.

After the massive US and NATO bombing resulting in Gaddafi's overthrow in 2011, transitional authorities set up a Supreme Security Committee (SSC) composed of militiamen who would try to curb others defying law enforcement in the belief it remained under the thumb of Gaddafi loyalists.

But the SSC, funded by the Interior Ministry, wound up better armed and powerful than the official police and a number of members have been accused of kidnappings and intimidation, complicating the lawlessness plaguing the oil-producing state.

In an interview with Reuters, Shuail said that close to 6000 militiamen - roughly 10% of those in the SSC - had signed up to join the regular police since an admissions programme was launched at the end of last year.

He said 37 police training committees under the interior ministry's authority had been set up to handle the new recruits.

Shuail said he was prepared to tweak the admission rules, accepting recruits as old as 40 or 45, or those lacking a high school diploma, to expedite the SSC merger with national police and make room for everyone keen to serve.

"Those looking for safety, security, legitimacy, employment, and to participate in building his nation in a civilized way will turn to the admissions committees. Loyalty is to God and country," he said.

A slew of previous attempts to integrate militiamen into police forces failed, but Shuail insisted the new plan was more viable because Libyans were fed up with gun rule in the streets.

"This time will be different because the street is ready. Libyans are ready for the return of a nation and for stability. We all have sons and daughters and personal and international interests, but this only (can be realised) in stability and with institutions of the nation," he said.

Shuail said he was confident that more and more SSC members would opt to join police because the incentives included steady salaries and paid health care, which would help them buy homes and start families.

The minister's spokesman said new applications were arriving from militiamen every day, without giving numbers.

Shuail was coy on the magnitude of the matter of gunmen who still reject law enforcement, saying only that the solution lay in brainstorming ideas to overcome such recalcitrance "while avoiding confrontation".

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