BENGHAZI — At least 31 people were killed in hours of clashes between protesters and a militia in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on Saturday, a doctor said on Sunday.
The continued existence of myriad militias, nearly two years after the fall of Moammar Gadhafi, is a growing source of public resentment, but the authorities have relied on some armed groups to help keep order in a country awash in weapons.
Fighting broke out on Saturday when protesters, some armed, massed outside the headquarters of the Libya Shield brigade to demand the disbanding of the militias.
Order was only restored in Libya's second city after special forces seized the compound of the militia, which said it was operating with the defense ministry's approval.
“The death toll now stands at 31 as more people succumbed to their wounds this morning," a doctor at the al-Jalaa hospital said. "There are more than 100 injured, some very seriously."
The doctor did not say how many of the dead were protesters or militia. The military lost five men, a military source said late on Saturday.
There was a heavier than usual police presence in Benghazi on Sunday ahead of funerals for the dead.
Prime Minister Ali Zeidan announced an inquiry into the violence.
Resentment against the militias has built since armed groups laid siege to ministries in Tripoli last month to press demands.
Anger at the militias surged in Benghazi last September after the killing of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in an attack on the U.S. mission there.