A spokesman for the Rebel Council in Benghazi has claimed that an Islamist militia was responsible for the assassination of Libyan rebel commander Gen Abdel Fattah Younes, who was shot on Thursday. Ali Tarhouni, a former economist in Libya and now a minister in the transitional government, said Gen Younes had been targeted by Obaida Ibn Jarrah, a group linked to the rebels. Gen Younes defected to the rebels in February after serving in the Libyan leadership since the 1969 coup which brought Col Muammar Gaddafi to power.
In a separate announcement, Nato has said it had bombed state television transmitters in Libya overnight, claiming it had knocked out three satellite transmission facilities in Tripoli, through a “precision air strike”. According to their news release this had been done in an attempt to stop “inflammatory broadcasts” by Gaddafi’s government. It also said the strikes would “reduce the regime’s ability to oppress civilians” but would “preserve television broadcast infrastructure that will be needed after the conflict”.
Tarhouni told reporters at a press conference in Benghazi that a leader of the militia had provided information on the circumstances of Younes’ death. Mr Tarhouni said Younes and two of his aides were killed after being recalled to the rebel stronghold for questioning. Younes’ shot and burned body, and the bodies of his aides, were found on the edge of Benghazi on Friday. “His lieutenants did it,” Mr Tarhouni said, but did not speculate on a motive for the killing, which he said was under investigation.
Col Gaddafi’s government said the killing was proof that the rebels were not capable of ruling Libya. Government propagandist Moussa Ibrahim said: “It is a nice slap [in] the face of the British that the [rebel National Transitional] council that they recognised could not protect its own commander of the army.” Mr Ibrahim also said Younes was killed by al-Qaeda, repeating a claim that the group is the strongest force within the rebel movement. “By this act, al-Qaeda wanted to mark out its presence and its influence in this region,” he said. “The other members of the National Transitional Council knew about it but could not react because they are terrified of al-Qaeda,” he added.