By Maha Ellawati and Sami Zaptia.
Tripoli, 3 January:
The head of the Benghazi Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Abdulsalam Al-Mihdawi, was kidnapped yesterday evening in Benghazi by an unknown group of armed men.
Sources told the Libya Herald that Mihdawi and two colleagues were waiting in their vehicle at a traffic light on Venezia Street in the Hawari district of Benghazi when two masked gunmen jumped out of a nearby car and seized the officer.
Shortly after the incident was reported, local police organised search squads to check nearby roads for any sign of the officer or his kidnappers, and later that evening, residents of Benghazi and officers from the security forces gathered outside the Tebesti hotel to condemn the abduction.
Today, the head of Benghazi’s local council, Mahmoud Buraziza, told the Libya Herald that the council and city authorities strongly condemned the incident, saying: “We are against killing, kidnapping or any such crimes, and we are firmly on the side of the law.”
Buraziza also pointed out that Mihdawi had only recently been appointed to his post in the CID in Benghazi.
This abduction comes after a series of security incursions, including attacks on police stations and assassinations of top security personnel in the city of Benghazi.
Moreover, it comes just days after the Interior Minister Ashour Shuwail and Chief of Staff Major General Yousef Mangoush visited Benghazi and announced new plans to counter the worsening security situation.
Towards the end of 2012, the eastern city witnessed a series of killings targeting senior members of the security forces, culminating in the murder of the head of the Security Directorate in Benghazi, Faraj Drissi, on 21 November. Some have seen the string of attacks as part of a coordinated campaign of assassinations.
Violence flared in the city again on 20 December when a demonstration outside the General Security Directorate in the Al-Hawari area descended into a shootout between armed men and police officers. The fighting left several national army soldiers and policemen dead, and was roundly condemned by top government, military and religious figures in the country.