TRIPOLI: Gunmen shot dead a journalist who was an outspoken critic of Islamists in Libya's volatile east on Monday, a security official said.
The official said Moftah Abu Zeid, chief editor of the Brnieq newspaper, was attacked while driving his car down a main street in the eastern city of Benghazi, cradle of the 2011 revolt that toppled and killed longtime ruler Moammar Gadhafi. The city has since seen near-daily attacks mainly targeting security forces.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters, said the assailants fled the scene.
Abu Zeid's newspaper last week carried a front page picture of a renegade general leading an offensive against Islamic militants in the city. He later said militiamen halted a shipment of the last issue on its way from Benghazi to the capital Tripoli.
Islamists have condemned the offensive launched earlier this month by Gen. Khalifa Hifter as a "coup" while several prominent government officials, diplomats and military units have rallied to his cause, hoping he can bring stability to the petroleum-rich North African country.
Hifter has said his armed campaign is aimed at imposing order and breaking the power of Islamists who lead the elected parliament, whom he accuses of opening the door to Islamic radicals.
Thousands of residents took to the streets in support of his campaign on Friday in different Libyan cities.
On Sunday, the country's embattled parliament approved an Islamist-backed government headed by Ahmed Maiteg despite a boycott by non-Islamists and the threats from Hifter.
The escalating conflict between Hifter's forces and the Islamists is the biggest challenge yet to the country's weak central government, which has struggled to rein in powerful former rebel brigades turned militias.