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Libyan army gives militia two days to clear out news
24 September 2012

The Libyan army, boosted by the people's wave that drove Islamist militia from Benghazi and Derna over the weekend, has given armed groups two days to vacate state and military premises in Tripoli or be ejected by force.

The two main Islamist militias in Derna, a town in eastern Libya known as an Islamist stronghold, said on Saturday that they were disbanding in the town, a day after one of them, Ansar al-Sharia, was driven out of Libya's second city, Benghazi by angry crowds.

One of the routed militias was blamed for an attack on the US consulate two weeks ago that left four Americans dead including the ambassador, Chris Stevens.

The de facto head of state, Muhammad Magariaf, president of Libya's parliament, met Benghazi politicians and security officials, anxious to fill a security vacuum that has emerged from the weekend violence in which at least 11 people died.

"The army chief Yussef al-Mangoush and Muhammad Magariaf have ordered all illegitimate militias should be removed from compounds and hand over their weapons to the national army," said Adel Othman al-Barasi, a spokesman for the defence ministry, according to Reuters. "A committee made up by the military police has been formed to take over the compounds and the weapons and hand these over to the army."

Benghazi's army garrison commander, General Hamad Belkhair, said he was moving military police units into vacated militia bases. "What happened was a big mess," he said of the takeover by protesters of Benghazi's three militia bases on Friday night and Saturday morning. "But it has left the government clearly in control of the streets."

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Libyan army gives militia two days to clear out