Tripoli, 17 January 2013:
The government is considering a nightime curfew in Benghazi in the battle to curb violence there. Interior minister Ashour Shuwail has said that the decision to order a curfew has been taken and that it would be implemented if necessary. It was initially reported that the curfew would be from midnight to 8am, however, it is now said it would stop at 5 am, allowing people to go to dawn prayers at their local mosque.
The idea of a curfew was first raised by Prime Minister Ali Zeidan at his press conference on Wednesday. He said that the government was not going to impose military rule on Libya’s second city but that it would increase the police presence on the city’s streets and was also considering the idea of a curfew. It would be brought into effect if the General National Congress agreed.
So far, Congress has not been notified. “We have not seen anything so far”, a member of its National Security Committee told the Libya Herald.
Earlier this month, Interior Minister Shuwail said that agreement had been drawn up with the army to secure the city of Benghazi and that strict measures would be taken against all illegal militias.
In the past week there have been two separate deadly bomb attacks on police vehicles in the city, leaving two policemen dead, and an attempt to assassinate the Italian Consul-General in the city, Guido de Sanctis.
Over the past 12 months, 19 senior security officials have been murdered in the city as well as several other policemen. On 11 September, the US ambassador Chris Stevens was killed along with three other US diplomatic staff in the city; three months earlier there was an attempt to assassinate the British Ambassador.