By Maha Ellawati and Valerie Stocker.
Benghazi/Tripoli, 5 November 2012:
The head of the self-proclaimed Cyrenaica Transitional Council’s military wing, Hamid Al-Hassi, narrowly survived an assassination attempt in Benghazi last night, Sunday, according to local reports. One of his bodyguards was said to have been killed in the attack and two others injured. It appears to be the latest in a string of targeted assassinations and assassination attempts over the past year in Benghazi and follows two days of violence in the city .
The attack is said to have occurred in the of Sidi Khalifa district. According to an account Al-Hassi gave to Solidarity Press, a group of heavily armed men in a vehicle tried to ambush him on the road to his farm. He escaped because he did not, he claimed, “go all the way to the farm” with his bodyguards. The attackers’ car, however, drove up to the gate and opened fire on the guards, killing one and injuring two others.
Al-Hassi is a controversial figure in Libya with many criticising him for his militant support for federalism, accusing him of creating division (fitna) in the country.
Following the killing of US Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi in September, he was involved in efforts to dismantle the Islamist group Ansar Al-Sharia, reportedly going as far as calling for assistance from Europe and the United Nations.