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Clashes erupt after kidnapping official’s son in Benghazi

Fighting left one army personnel dead and two more injured

Published: Updated:

Clashes in the Libyan city of Benghazi killed at least one soldier of the army’s special forces, after its commander’s son was kidnapped, a military source and a witness said Thursday, according to the Agence France-Presse.

The clashes left at least one soldier killed, and wounded two other army personnel, medical sources said.

The unknown kidnappers demanded that Libya’s special forces’ commander, Brigadier-General Wanis Bu Khamada, pull his forces from the city, especially the districts of al-Hawari and Gwarsha, in exchange of releasing his abducted son, a source told Al Arabiya News Channel.

Several military facilities are located Al-Hawari, Gwasha, and Gar Younes districts, but are controlled by militias of former rebels, the military source told AFP on the condition of anonymity.

According to witnesses, the heaviest clashes were seen at a base operated by the Brigade of the February 17 Martyrs, a group of former Islamist rebels.

The group denied kidnapping the general’s son on its Facebook page, reported AFP.

Ali Bu Khamada was taken outside Benghazi University, where he is a student, a witness told the Libyan Herald newspaper.

According to the witness, Bu Khamada tried resisting his kidnappers and appeared to have been injured by a gun shot, reported the newspaper.

Special forces announced last Friday the arrest of four suspects in possession of a hit list of officers that were to be targeted, or were already killed.

A military source said the abduction was carried out to pressure the special forces to release prisoners held by the army, according to AFP.

Libyans are set to hit the polls on Feb. 20 to choose a commission tasked to draft a new constitution, president of the General National Congress (GNC) Nuri Abu Sahmein said on Thursday.

The GNC, formed after Libya held its first free vote ever in July 2012, is the country’s highest political authority. At its conception, it was given an 18-month mandate to lead the country towards general elections after drafting a new constitution, reported AFP.

Abu Sahmein said the GNC was coordinating with the High National Election Commission to create a body of 60 members to begin the creation of the document.

Libyans living overseas will vote from February 15 to 17, added the official, according to AFP.