Gulf of Sidra, Cyrenaica and Benghazi
The last week has seen several demonstrations in the Benghazi city area. On 23 October, up to 300 people were reported to have gathered outside the Tibesti Hotel in Benghazi to demonstrate against the ongoing military action in Bani Walid. On 24 October Libya Al Mustakbal reported on a demonstration in front of the Egyptian consulate in Benghazi, protesting against tighter Egyptian visa regulations. According to the report, youths assaulted Libyan guards protecting the consulate, seizing a pistol from one guard and firing it into the air. Some demonstrators were also reported to have broken into the consulate, although this remains unconfirmed. Press Solidarity also reported that on 24 October around 300 security personnel belonging to Benghazi’s hospitals demonstrated in front of the National Security Directorate building against a new decision that incorporates them into the national security apparatus.
Reports continue to focus on the hunt for those involved in the 11 September attack against the US consulate in Benghazi, which resulted in the death of the US Ambassador to Libya and three US consulate personnel. On 24 October, Associated Press reported that a Tunisian who was arrested in Turkey in connection with the attack had been returned to Tunisia on terrorism charges. The man, named as Ali Harzi, was one of two Tunisians arrested in Turkey on 3 October, allegedly having entered the country on false passports. A separate report cited an unspecified US intelligence official claimed that the Tunisian authorities have so far not allowed US officials to interview the suspect. According to the report, the suspect has ties to both Ansar Al Sharia and Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
Separately, an Egyptian suspected of involvement in the US consulate attack was reportedly killed in Cairo on 25 October. According to the Egyptian Interior Ministry, the individual, named only as Hazem, died in a shoot-out with security forces at an apartment in Nasr City, northeast Cairo. Egyptian forces had been sent to arrest Hazem following information received implicating him in the Benghazi attack. Reuters subsequently reported that the individual was named as Karim Ahmed Essam Al Azizi and that he was killed by a bomb that he had tried to throw at security forces. The report also claimed that a quantity of weapons and ammunition were found in the apartment.
The National Security Directorate in Benghazi reported that several homemade ‘benzene-based’ bombs were thrown at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) building on 27 October. One of the perpetrators was reported to have been wounded by his own bomb and was later arrested at a nearby hospital with a companion.
On 26 October, the Washington Post reported that Islamic extremists have found shelter in the remote ‘Green Mountains’ that surround the city of Derna, 250km to the northeast of Benghazi. The report also claimed that on the morning of 25 October, an explosion damaged a building in the city; that local authorities had hoped to use to support a new security force. Other reports have also claimed that local leaders are concerned over the growing lawlessness in the city, following the withdrawal of Ansar Al Sharia and other Islamist aligned militia groups in the wake of the US consulate attack.