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Libya’s military police chief killed in Benghazi

Published: Updated:

Unknown assailants gunned down Libya’s military police chief, Colonel Ahmed Mustapha al-Barghathi, Friday in the restive eastern city of Benghazi, security services said.

Gunmen shot Barghathi outside his home, Colonel Abdullah al-Zaidi, spokesman for the security services, told Agence France-Presse.

Zaidi said Barghathi died of head and chest wounds at the Mediterranean city’s al-Jala hospital

Meanwhile, a source told Reuters, that “several shots hit Barghathi. He was brought to hospital but later died there.”

Barghathi, a former rebel

Barghathi, who was a former rebel leader in the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi, was the first officer in the former regime’s army to defect and form a rebel force in the revolt, Zaidi said.

While Benghazi was the cradle of the uprising that ousted Qaddafi’s regime, it has since seen a series of assassinations targeting officers in the security services.

Most recently, Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was briefly kidnapped by gunmen in Tripoli.

Other attacks have targeted Western interests and diplomats, and much of the violence has been attributed to radical Islamists, including the killing of U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in an attack on the U.S. mission last year.

Libya is struggling to assert control over militias and radical Islamists two years after Qaddafi’s toppling. The government is also still struggling to rein in tribal militias and groups of former rebels.

The shooting of Barghathi, who was on vacation in the city, is the highest profile attack there for weeks, according to AFP.

Some former rebel groups now in theory help the government maintain security, but are themselves often a source of violence.

(With AFP and Reuters)