By Aymen Majed.
Tripoli, 1 August 2014:
Thousands of Benghazi residents took to the streets on Friday in what is being called the biggest demonstration . . .[restrict]in the city since those that followed the killing on 11 September 2012 of US ambassador Chris Stevens.
Protesters gathered in front of the Tebesti Hotel carrying flags and shouting chants against Ansar Al-Sharia and its leader, Mohammed Al-Zahawi, as well as the Libya Shield commander Wissam Ben Hamid.
The crowds demanded an end to the violence and terroism in the city and the full presence of the national army and police.
The demonstration came a day after Zahawi made a public claim that Benghazi was under Ansar’s complete control.
“Benghazi has now become an Islamic Emirate,” Zahawi told Radio Tawhid.
The declaration came following two days of heavy clashes during which the Islamist militants and their allies seized the Buatni headquarters of Saiqa Special Forces.
Retired General Khalifa Hafter, for his part, has denied Zahawi’s claim and has countered that the Special Forces’ evacuation of the base was a tactical move.
In a related development, Benghazi Municipal Council says it has managed to secure Ansar Al-Sharia’s agreement to quit Jelaa Hospital and hand responsibility for protecting it to a group of young men from Salmani district. Protestors managed to force Ansar out of the hospital on Wednesday but the militants moved back in yesterday. [/restrict]