Libyan rebels tell militia to lay down arms

Last Updated: Sunday, July 31, 2011 - 10:00

Benghazi: Libya`s opposition has ordered all militia to disband and come under their control after the slaying of one of the top military commanders in the rebellion against Muammar Gaddafi.

"The time has come to disband these brigades. Anybody who refuses to take part in this decree will be tried with the full measure of the law," Mustafa Abdel Jalil, chairman of the National Transitional Council, has said.

The fighters belonging to these groups would be absorbed by the interior ministry, Abdel Jalil told a news conference in the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

The move comes three days after the NTC announced the murder of General Abdel Fatah Yunis, who was the faithful right-hand man of Colonel Gaddafi before defecting to rebels who have been fighting to oust the strongman since February.

Gen Yunis was shot dead by an armed group after he was summoned from the front by the National Transitional Council "for questioning over military issues", Jalil said.

The assassination fuelled widespread rumours and unconfirmed reports on the identity and motives of the perpetrators.

Another member of the NTC, Ali Tarhuni, has said that those who killed Gen Yunis as he was on his way to questioning were members of the Jarah Ibn al-Obeidi brigade.

Tarhuni said at the time that militias in Benghazi had three choices - joining rebel armed forces in the front, joining security services in the city, or laying down their arms.

Meanwhile, another opposition figure has urged media covering the rebels to rein in their reporting.

"Irresponsible news was published. This is unacceptable," said Mahmud Shamman, spokesman for the National Transitional Council (NTC), has said.

Shammam was referring to reports, including by Libya Al-Hurra (Free Libya) television, that the "February 17" rebel group was behind the killing of Gen Yunis.

He called on both foreign and local media "not to publish reports based on unofficial sources as this can put rebels at risk", as individuals loyal to Gaddafi were spreading misinformation.

Speaking at a news conference, the spokesman urged journalists not to base their reports on rumours and to instead "identify your sources" as the NTC wished to maintain "the freedom of the press".

Bureau Report



First Published: Sunday, July 31, 2011 - 10:00

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