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At Least 10 Dead After Libyan Protesters Expel Islamist Militia From Bases


Libyan protesters have ousted a jihadist militia from its headquarters and seized other paramilitary bases in Benghazi in clashes that left at least 10 people dead.

The revolt against Islamist militias in the city came after tens of thousands took to the streets late on September 21 to protest the militias' power.

Members of the extremist Ansar al-Sharia group took flight as hundreds of protesters stormed and then torched their compound.

A spokesman for Ansar al-Sharia said the group had evacuated its bases in Benghazi "to preserve security in the city."

The demonstrators then stormed paramilitary bases in the city controlled by former rebel units that have declared their loyalty to the central government.

The reported deaths came as fighting broke out between militia members and armed members of the crowd early on September 22.

The group is suspected of involvement in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi in which Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed.

Demonstrators also took over another Ansar al-Sharia compound and a base belonging to the Abu Slim brigade.

Libyan authorities warned against "chaos" and called on demonstrators to make a distinction between "illegitimate" militias and those who are under state control.

Interior Minister Fawzi Abdelali warned that there were "infiltrators among demonstrators," adding that some belonged to the security services and sought to "sow chaos."

The assaults came after some 30,000 people rallied against the influence of militias in the city. The protesters raised banners reading "No to armed formations" and "Yes to the Libya army."

Hundreds of extremist Islamists held their own protest.

Since the attack against the U.S. Consulate on September 11, Libya's interim government has come under renewed pressure to rein in extremist militia groups and force them to disband.

Based on reporting by AFP, AP, Reuters, and the BBC
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