Abdel Fattah Younes Dead

 

BENGHAZI, Libya, July 28 (Reuters) – The head of the Libyan rebelsmilitary campaign against Muammar Gaddafi was shot dead by assailants on Thursday, the top rebel leader said.

Abdel Fattah Younes was part of the group involved in the 1969 coup that brought Gaddafi to power, and was interior minister before he defected and took a senior position in the rebellion in February.

“We received news today that … Younes and two of his bodyguards were shot at after he was called in to appear before a judical committee investigating military issues,” rebel leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil told reporters in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

Some rebels were never comfortable with an army leader who had until recently been so close to Gaddafi, and Younes had been involved in a dispute over the leadership of the rebel forces.

Jalil said Younes was shot before appearing in front of the judicial committee and the head of the armed cell that killed him had been arrested.

It was not clear where Younes and his bodyguards had been killed or how Jalil had learned of their deaths, but Jalil said all efforts were being made to find their bodies.

Shortly afterwards, gunmen burst into the grounds of the hotel where Jalil was speaking and fired bursts of shots in the air, a Reuters reporter said.

(Reporting by Rania El Gamal in Benghazi; Joseph Nasr in Berlin; editing by David Lewis)

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Rebel security had arrested Younis and two of his aides early Thursday from their operations room near the rebels’ eastern front. Security officials said at the time that Younis was to be questioned about suspicions his family still had ties to Moammar Gadhafi’s regime.

Younis was Gadhafi’s interior minister before defecting to the rebels early in the uprising, which began in February.

Abdel-Jalil said that Younis had been summoned for questioning regarding “a military matter.” He said Younis and his two aides were shot before they arrived for questioning.

Abdel-Jalil called Younis “one of the heroes of the 17th of February revolution,” a name marking the date of early protests against Gadhafi’s regime.

While he criticized Gadhafi for seeking to break the unity of rebel forces, he did not say directly that Younis’ killers were associated with the regime. Instead, he issued a stiff warning about “armed groups” in rebel-held cities, saying they needed to join the fight against Gadhafi or risk being arrested by security forces.

 

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