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September 23, 2012

Libyan Army Begins to Disband Militias

by VOA News

Libya's military says it has raided several militia compounds in and around the capital, Tripoli, after the country's interim leader ordered the disbanding of all unauthorized militias.

The Sunday raids came the day after National Assembly President Mohammed el-Magarief vowed to dissolve all militias and military camps operating outside the control of the government.  

On Saturday, authorities took control of militia bases in the eastern city of Benghazi after fighting that left 11 people dead and more than 60 others wounded.

Those clashes outside the jihadist militia compounds followed large-scale protests Friday in which tens of thousands of Libyans marched through Benghazi, demanding the dissolution of those militant groups. The protesters ousted the jihadist militia Ansar al-Shariah from its headquarters, and seized the bases of other armed militias in Benghazi.  

Ansar al-Shariah has been linked to the assault earlier this month at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.  The group denies the allegation.

The attack on the consulate coincided with protests against an anti-Islam video produced by some private individuals in the United States.

Since the fall of Moammar Gadhafi, the militias have grown stronger - boasting arsenals of automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and pickup trucks with heavy machine guns.