Anti-militia protests show frailty of Libyan state
BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) -- Residents of Libya's second-largest city warned on Saturday of a "revolution" to get rid of militias and Islamic extremists after protests against the armed groups, spurred in part by the killing of the U.S. ambassador, left at least four dead in an unprecedented eruption of public frustration.
In a sign of how weak the country's post-Moammar Gadhafi leadership remains, authorities tried to stem popular anger, pleading that some of the militias are needed to keep the country safe since the police and army are incapable of doing so.
During the day Saturday, there were no new protests, but the city of 1 million in eastern Libya was brimming with anger, rumors and conspiracy theories.
Some militiamen bitterly accused Gadhafi loyalists of fueling the protests. Further adding to the tensions, the bodies of six soldiers were found in the morning dumped on the outskirts of the city, shot through the forehead and their hands cuffed, state TV reported. An army colonel was reported missing, feared kidnapped. Some media reports accused militiamen taking revenge on Gadhafi-era veterans in the military; in contrast, a military spokesman, Ali al-Shakhli, blamed Gadhafi loyalists, saying they were trying to stir up trouble between the public and militias.