Mobile  |  About us  |  Photos  |  Videos  |  Subscriptions  |  RSS Feeds  |  Today's Paper  |  Classifieds  |  Contact Us
The Daily Star
SUNDAY, 20 APR 2014
03:57 AM Beirut time
Weather    
Beirut
22 °C
Blom Index
BLOM
1,214.01down
Middle East
Follow this story Print RSS Feed ePaper share this
Hundreds of Libyans hand over their weapons
Associated Press
Libyan civilians turn in weapons to security forces in Benghazi, Libya, Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012. Hundreds of Libyans have converged on a main square in Benghazi in response to a call from the military to hand over their weapons. The call by the Libyan chiefs of staff was promoted on a private TV station earlier this month. (AP Photo/Ibrahim Alaguri)
Libyan civilians turn in weapons to security forces in Benghazi, Libya, Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012. Hundreds of Libyans have converged on a main square in Benghazi in response to a call from the military to hand over their weapons. The call by the Libyan chiefs of staff was promoted on a private TV station earlier this month. (AP Photo/Ibrahim Alaguri)
A+ A-

BENGHAZI, Libya: Hundreds of Libyans converged Saturday on a main square in Benghazi and another in Tripoli in response to a call from the military to hand over their weapons, some driving in with armored personnel carriers, tanks, vehicles with mounted anti-aircraft guns and hundreds of rocket launchers. The call by the Libyan chiefs of staff was promoted on a private TV station in August. But it may have gained traction in the wake of the attack against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in which the American ambassador and three staffers were killed. The incident was followed by a popular uproar against armed militias which have increasingly challenged government authorities.

In response, the government has called on all militias to disband or join a command center coordinating between the army and the militias. The government had relied on many militias for security during the turmoil following last year’s ouster and killing of longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Army Col. Omran al-Warfali said the turnout has been impressive.

“Hundreds of citizens came since the early hours of this morning to handover their weapons from all segments of society, men and youth, women, and even children came to hand over bullets they found it in the streets,” he said.

Previously, the government had estimated that over 200,000 people in Libya are armed. It has attempted a number of disarmament schemes, including offering people jobs in exchange for handing over their weapons, or offering to buy guns. Those offers have shown few results.

Ahmad Salem, an organizer of the efforts in Benghazi, said over 800 citizens handed in weapons at the main collection point. Over 600 different types of arms were collected, including anti-aircraft guns, land mines, rocket launchers and artillery rockets.

Moussa Omr, a former fighter who lives on the outskirts of Benghazi and who fought against Gadhafi, said it was time to turn over his weapon to the state.

“When I saw the announcement on television I came to Benghazi with my wife and son to hand over my weapon to the national army because I want to move from the stage of the revolution to state building,” he said.

“I trust the national army. They have been with us on the frontline and I know them one by one. I don’t need this weapon after today ... the national army will protect us.”

Most of Libya’s militias emerged during the eight-month war against Gadhafi, but others sprang up after the end of fighting last October.

With the country trying to rebuild after the 42-year dictatorship, the groups paid little attention to successive interim leaders. They were accused of bullying citizens, operating independent prisons and holding summary trials for Gadhafi loyalists.

Recently, Islamist-led militias have also attacked shrines, such as tombs associated with religious figures they consider counter to their strict interpretations of Islam.

In Tripoli, at least 200 former fighters handed over their weapons, including two tanks, at the Martyrs’ square in the city center. A preacher urged young fighters to give up their weapons.

“The nation is built with knowledge not guns,” he said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 01, 2012, on page 9.
Home Middle East
 
     
 
Libya
Advertisement
Comments  

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

comments powered by Disqus
Advertisement


Baabda 2014
Advertisement
Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Linked In Follow us on Google+ Subscribe to our Live Feed
Multimedia
Images  
Pictures of the day
A selection of images from around the world- Saturday April 19, 2014
View all view all
Advertisement
Rami G. Khouri
Rami G. Khouri
Why Israeli-Palestinian talks fail
Michael Young
Michael Young
Why confuse gibberish with knowledge?
David Ignatius
David Ignatius
Echoes of 1914 characterize the Ukraine crisis
View all view all
Advertisement
cartoon
 
Click to View Articles
 
 
News
Business
Opinion
Sports
Culture
Technology
Entertainment
Privacy Policy | Anti-Spamming Policy | Disclaimer | Copyright Notice
© 2014 The Daily Star - All Rights Reserved - Designed and Developed By IDS