September 21, 2012
Libyan Protesters Evict Militiamen From Compound
Hundreds of protesters stormed the compound of one of Libya's strongest armed Islamic extremist groups in Benghazi on Friday, in the wake of the assault that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.
The armed men at the base for the Ansar al-Shariah militia fired into the air to disperse the surging crowd, but eventually withdrew from the site with their weapons and vehicles after it was surrounded by waves of protesters shouting "No to militias.''
The group is suspected of involvement in the September 11 attack on the U.S. Benghazi consulate that killed the Americans.
Earlier in the day, tens of thousands of Libyans marched through Benghazi to demand the disbanding of the powerful armed gangs.
The anti-militia demonstrators demanded that the militias disband and that the government build up the police and military to take their place in providing security.
At the same time, far fewer supporters of the ultraconservative Salafist group also gathered to protest against a U.S.-made film that mocks Islam and cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad published by a French satirical weekly.
Since the fall of Moammar Gadhafi, the militias have grown stronger, boasting arsenals of automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and pick-up trucks with heavy machine guns. Many are strongly Islamist.