By Libya Herald reporter.
Benghazi, 13 July 2016:
The head of the Libyan National Army’s Omar Mukhtar Operations Room which covers the Derna area has ordered people in Derna to rise up against the mujahideen currently controlling the town, to expel them and seize their weapons. If they do not do so, he says, they risk being bombed. The threat by Brigadier Kamal Al-Jabali was made today, according to the pro-LNA offices of the Libyan news agency LANA based in Beida.
Jabali specifically warned the town’s Omboukh, “400” and Lamis districts as well as the areas around the Pearl Hotel and the thermal power station, five kilometres west of the town centre, that they would all be targeted unless the mujadideen were kicked out.
Under siege with the LNA blocking roads in and out, Derna has seen an increase in the number of LNA bombing raids over the past week. The area near the power station was reportedy targeted yesterday. Last Saturday, LNA helicopter gunships hit the port, the court building, an apartment block and buildings formerly used by a Turkish company. Since then, the Derna Mujahideen Shoura Council (DMSC), the real power in the town, has shut down the court and police station and told staff to leave in the hope that it would deter further raids.
It has also issued a statement that that it had already handed over the Pearl Hotel, the port and the university buildings to the relevant authorities, insisting that LNA claims that weapons and ammunition were being stored there were untrue.
The LNA’s demand that the mujahideen be expelled is unlikely to be heeded. Ordinary Derna residents are in no position to force out the DMSC which, in any event, is very much a local organisation.
For its part, the DMSC is likely to want to keep residents exactly where they are. It knows that any bombings that result in civilian deaths in Derna will almost certainly draw international condemnation. Last month, following the deaths of two children and two women in LNA air strikes against the town, UN Special Envoy Martin Kobler warned that it might amount to a war crime and that those who killed civilians had to be held accountable.