Libyan intelligence official killed outside home

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Associated Press

Posted on December 20, 2013 at 3:02 PM

Updated Friday, Dec 20 at 3:06 PM

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Gunmen shot and killed a top Libyan military intelligence official Friday outside his home in an eastern city known as a stronghold for an Islamic extremist militia, the latest in a string of assassinations targeting government officials and others.

Col. Fatallah Abdel-Rahim al-Qazeri died outside his home in Darna following a relative's wedding, a security official said. Al-Qazeri had been named as head of military intelligence in the restive city of Benghazi earlier this month, the official said.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he feared being targeted in a reprisal attack.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for al-Qazeri's killing, though Darna is known as a stronghold of Ansar al-Shariah, a hard-line group suspected to have been behind the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Libyan security forces clashed in Benghazi last month with Ansar al-Shariah. The group also faces a backlash from residents who have marched against it in Benghazi and, in recent days, in Darna.

Libya's heavily armed militias, with roots in the 2011 war against dictator Moammar Gadhafi, have proliferated since his overthrow. They have undermined successive transitional governments and parliament.

With frequent attacks on public figures and security officials, much of the lawlessness is blamed on the groups. But the government also relies on many of them to provide security in the absence of a functioning police force.

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