Misrata militias ordered to leave Libyan capital following US military training proposal
Libyan rebel groups have established checkpoints nationwide as they compete for power and territory control with other militias as well as the central government (Mahmud Turkia/AFP)
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Libyan intelligence chief General Yusuf al-Atrash was killed and deputy intelligence chief Mustafa Nah was abducted, according to Al-Arabiya news reports from Monday. The killing and kidnapping coincide with US military plans to train Libyan troops, andreports that militias responsible for last week's violence in Tripoli have been ordered to leave the capital within 72 hours.
Al-Atrash was reported dead in the western city of al-Ujailat, while Nuh was kidnapped in Tripoli only hours before he was scheduled to travel abroad. No one has yet claimed responsibility of al-Atrash's death.
The death and capture of the two intelligence officers follow a weekend of fatal militia attacks that left more than 40 people dead and hundreds wounded in the country's capital. Reports from Monday indicate that the militias responsible for the attacks, most of whom hail from the town of Misrata, have been ordered to leave the capital within 72 hours, according to Agence France-Presse.
The US military has further responded to the growing violence in Libya, telling reporters Sunday that it is planning to train 5,000-7,000 members of the Libyan security and special operations forces to maintain order in their country and carry out counterterrorism missions, according to Reuters.
According to the head of US's Special Operations Command, Admiral William McRaven,"Right now as we go forward to try and find a good way to build up the Libyan security forces so they are not run by militias, we are going to have to assume some risks. Suffice to say that there is going to be a kind of conventional effort, to train their conventional forces, between 5 and 7,000 conventional forces. And we have a complementary effort on the special operations side to train a certain number of their forces to do counter-terrorism."
He did not provide further details on the proposed training, but said that the project was still under negotiation.
A US defense official, however, told Reuters on the condition of anonymity that the US plans to "involve training of smalls groups on a rotational basis over years in Bulgaria."
Libya's government has struggled to maintain order in the post-Gaddafi era with rival militias competing with the weak centralized government for power, territory, and control. The instability of the north African nation has thus become a point of worry for not only Libya's neighbors, but also world powers vying for stakes and influence in the region as well.