By Seraj Essul.
Tripoli, 3 December 2013:
Derna has seen its third and largest day of protest during which Ansar Sharia abandoned its . . .[restrict]headquarters and apparently quit the town and a radical Islamic radio station was set on fire.
Crowds once again gathered at the Sahaba mosque before Asr (afternoon) prayers and then marched through the town, repeating their demands of the last two days that armed militias in the city get out and that the government send police and army units to take over security. Demonstrators returned to the mosque for Maghrib prayers and then a larger crowd, by some estimate in the thousands, again set off through the streets.
In the east of the city, some protestors broke away and attacked the Medina Radio station, which it was claimed had been broadcasting messages in support of Ansar Al-Sharia and calling for jihad. It appears that the building was firebombed but it was unclear how badly it was damaged. One eye witness told the Libya Herald that it had not been destroyed.
The demonstration, a mix of people on foot and in cars, then moved toward the Ansar Al-Sharia headquarters by Derna’s western gate,a three-storey building, once a police training college, but until the militia took it over within the last three months, a hospital clinic. A claim by one eyewitness that the procession stretched for more than a kilometre has not been verified.
“By the time we reached the place” said a protestor, “all the Ansar Al-Sharia people had left with their vehicles and weapons. They obviously knew we were coming. There were just six guards there”. Orders from the guards that the by-now large crowd should go away and disburse, were ignored. So the guards themselves left in six vehicles.
However, it is alleged that the last guard to leave tried to drive at the demonstrators before speeding away. Protestors set off in pursuit in their own vehicles, caught up with the guard’s HiLux and forced it to crash off the road, rolling over several times. According to one demonstrator, the man was pulled from the wreckage, disarmed of his Kalashnikov and stabbed in leg, neck and head. It seems that his life was saved by the appearance of other protestors who stopped the attack and drove the Ansar Al-Sharia guard to the Hareesh hospital, where it is said this evening that he is in intensive care in a serious condition.
There are no reports that any of the demonstrators was hurt in the confrontations. However the car of one political activist, named locally as Hafev Abu-Jamila was blown up outside the Al-Latiq mosque while he was at the Sahaba mosque. It appears that a powerful explosive device may have been involved, because nearly cars and buildings were damaged by shrapnel.
In the course of the evening, it is reported that the other two militia groups in Derna, the Army of the Islamic State of Libya and the Abu Selim brigade let it be known that they did not intend to become involved in the confrontation with Ansar Al-Sharia. The Abu Selim brigade added that it would welcome the government sending in the police and army, providing it acted within the principles of the Sharia.
As this report was being completed, it was learnt that a bomb had exploded beneath the vehicle of a former Derna councillor, Abdul Basset Al-Barasi outside his home on the east coast of the city. Barasi was inside his property when the blast occurred and no one was injured. He was one of the first Derna councillors to quit in protest at the deteriorating security situation in the city.