Libyans storm Islamist militia base in Benghazi
By Peter Graff and Suleiman Al-Khalidi
BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - Pro-government demonstrators stormed the headquarters of the Islamist Ansar al-Sharia group in Benghazi on Friday and evicted fighters from the site in a sweep of militia bases in the Libyan city, Reuters witnesses said.
Militia fighters made a stand at another heavily fortified compound across the eastern city, firing on demonstrators with heavy machine guns and wounding several people, protesters said.
Ansar al-Sharia has been linked to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi last week in which the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans died. It denies involvement.
Friday's action against the group appeared to be part of a coordinated sweep of militia headquarters buildings by police, government troops and activists following a mass public demonstration against militia units earlier in the day.
Chanting "Libya, Libya," hundreds of demonstrators entered, pulling down militia flags and torching a vehicle inside the compound, Ansar al-Sharia's main base in Benghazi - once the base of forces of former leader Muammar Gaddafi.
The crowd waved swords and even a meat cleaver, crying "No more al Qaeda!" and "The blood we shed for freedom shall not go in vain!"
"After what happened at the American consulate, the people of Benghazi had enough of the extremists," said demonstrator Hassan Ahmed. "They did not give allegiance to the army. So the people broke in and they fled."
"This place is like the Bastille. This is where Gaddafi controlled Libya from, and then Ansar al-Sharia took it over. This is a turning point for the people of Benghazi." Continued...