Assailant killed in assassination attempt on Libya Islamist

Mon Jan 7, 2013 11:01am EST
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BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - Assailants tried to kill a prominent Libyan Islamist leader by planting a bomb under his car in an apparent revenge attack dating back to the uprising that ousted veteran leader Muammar Gaddafi, police said on Monday.

One of the suspects was killed during the assassination attempt late on Sunday on Ahmed Abu Khattala, who is being investigated by the United States after the attack on its consulate in Benghazi in which its ambassador was killed.

"I was in the house when the bomb went off. Two men tried to put a home made bomb under my car which was parked outside the house but it exploded first. One man ran away, the other died," Abu Khattala told Reuters by telephone.

Lieutenant Colonel Younes Ahmed of the Benghazi police department confirmed two people tried to plant a bomb under Abu Khattala's car, and that one man died in the explosion.

Police said the motive likely dated back to the splintered loyalties of the conflict that overthrew Gaddafi in 2011 after 42 years in power.

Tribal and historical loyalties still run deep in Libya, which is struggling to maintain central government control in a country where armed militia wield real power and meaningful systems of law and justice are lacking after the crumbling of Gaddafi's eccentric personal rule.

Ahmed said the suspects were relatives of a military fighter, Lieutenant Ahmed Nasser Madhkour, who was killed at the same time as rebel military chief Abdelfattah Younes, a former Gaddafi loyalist who had defected to the rebels.

"It seems the men who attempted the assassination were trying to avenge the death of their relative. They still blame Abu Khattala for the killing," Ahmed said

Abu Khattala's war-time militia, the Obeidah al-Jarrah brigade, was blamed in the killing in July 2011 of Younes.   Continued...