Libya: Benghazi Violence Mars Liberation Day

By Magharebia

By Fathia al-Majbri

While a number of Libyan cities commemorated the anniversary of liberating the country from Kadhafi’s 42-year grip, the cradle of revolution refused to celebrate.

Benghazi residents and activists said there was nothing to celebrate, so long as citizens were being killed and threatened every day by unknown persons.

In the latest violence, a senior air force officer was assassinated on Thursday morning (October 24th), according to AFP. Colonel Adel Khalil al-Tawahi was shot in the head and chest outside of his home

A day earlier, on the morning of the liberation anniversary, Benghazi woke up to news of assassination of Osama al-Fitouri, a young man working for the Arabian Gulf Oil Company. He was shot in the head near al-Majouri clinic at 7:45am while he was on his way to work.

Eyewitnesses said assailants in a Hyundai opened fire on the victim and fled.

The attack was not the only one of its type to mar the holiday. Another body was found Tuesday evening near the Ozo Hotel in central Benghazi. Investigations did not reveal why the two young men were killed.

Special operation forces in Benghazi also defused a time bomb planted at al-Keesh post office in a residential building complex on Wednesday after a citizen informed the authorities.

Meanwhile, an unknown armed group attacked Gar Younis police station. An exchange of fire ensued between policemen and attackers, leaving one policeman dead.

“I was expecting that Libya as a whole, not just Benghazi, wouldn’t celebrate,” said Belkacem al-Sahati, 48, a poet.

“Why should we celebrate? What have we achieved other than expanding our graveyards to accommodate for this big number of martyrs who are falling now?” he asked.

“Is it for a country that is sinking in blood, divisions and discord? How can we celebrate while a large section of the people is displaced either at home or abroad? Unfortunately, we haven’t realised anything worthy of celebration,” al-Sahati continued. “On this day, we just pray for mercy for the martyrs and for patience for their mothers who miss them. As to us, we have gone off course and deviated from our religion, habits and traditions, and not just from the revolution.”

In his turn, Maraey al-Hassi, a 44-year old employee, said, “Given what’s happening on a daily basis here in terms of assassinations and security chaos, there is a general feeling in the Benghazi street that the revolution has been stolen, and that none of the demands for which young men had died has been met.”

“I was almost sure that the people of Benghazi wouldn’t celebrate that anniversary because of the blood that is shed every day,” al-Hassi added.

“Many Libyans are convinced that the country has not been liberated at all, given militia control over decision-making,” he told Magharebia.

Mahmoud Ali, a 45-year-old employee at the river administration, sarcastically said, “Those who have the right to celebrate the alleged Liberation Day are the criminals who were released from prisons at the start of revolution.”

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