By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli/Benghazi, 24 October 2013:
The head of Benghazi’s Air Traffic Control, Colonel Adel Al-Towahni, was shot dead outside his home this morning at around 8am, apparently with a pistol fitted with a silencer.
Sources at the Benghazi Medical Centre, where he was pronounced dead on arrival, said he had received a number of gunshot wounds.
Described by a fellow colonel as a “champion of the revolution,” Towahni is thought to be the 15th member of the Air Force in the east of the country to have been targeted this year. In a string of killings which continue to destabilise the east, more than 90 senior military and security personnel in and around Benghazi have been assassinated.
This latest murder has provoked a furious response from the Air Force in Benghazi, which blames the government for failing to protect the military against attack.
“Since the Air Force defends the nation from foreign invaders, they should be protected by the nation,” said one officer. “Prime Minister Ali Zeidan must do more to support the country’s Air Force personnel. We can no longer accept this.”
At the very least, he said, high-ranking members of the Air Force should be issued with protective measures against attacks. These could include bomb jammers, which create electromagnetic energy fields designed to interfere with the detonation of explosive devices, and mirrors for checking beneath their cars. Another officer said: “We are not even issued with our own pistols for personal protection – we must buy our own.”
A senior commander at Benina Air Base said that if the government were not able to properly investigate the attacks, a number of Air Force colonels would form a committee to start their own investigations, according to spokesman for the Benghazi Joint Operations Room, Abdullah Zeidi.
This response highlights the increasing gulf between Zeidan and the professional military in Libya.
Towahni will be buried in a military funeral this afternoon. The day should have been a happy family occasion – the first day of week-long wedding celebrations for the marriage of his daughter.