The government and the General National Congress held a joint emergency meeting this evening, Saturday on the security situation in southern Libya.
The meeting, under the umbrella of the National Security Council, was attended by the Prime Minister Ali Zeidan and the president of Congress, Mohamed Magarief, as well as Defence Minister Mohamed Barghati, Interior Minister Ashour Shuwail, Chief of Staff Major-General Yousef Mangoush and intelligence chief Salem Hassi. Also at the meeting were the deputy president of Congress, Saleh Al-Makhzoum, and the chairmen of Congress’ national security, defence and interior committees.
The discussions, in Magarief’s offices, followed yesterday’s dawn attack on Sebha’s main police station in which three police officers were killed. It was the second deadly assault on the security forces in Sebha in a fortnight.
According to Makhzoum, the meeting looked at the support needed in Sebha to put an end to the attacks.
The Prime Minister was quoted by the Libyan news agency LANA saying that the government was determined to see its authority fully established in the south. He added that a comprehensive plan would be also drawn up covering all aspects of the region’s reconstruction, development and security as well as the security of the border.
The meeting also discussed security in Libya generally.
Meanwhile, it has been announced by the office of Sebha military governor Ramadan Barasi that the Zawia Martyrs’ Military Battalion based in the town managed last night to find two of the vehicles stolen in the attack on the police headquarters.
Second Deadly Sebha Attack in a Fortnight (Libya Herald 13.4)
Three members of the security forces were killed and four wounded in a drawn raid yesterday on Sebha’s main police station. The assault also saw 17 of the attackers captured.
One police source suggested that the assailants were from the Khamis Brigade, one of the Qaddafi regime’s most brutal units during the revolution.
The head of Sebha’s military council, Ahmed Al-Atteibi told AFP that three police guards had been killed in the attack, during which weapons and two vehicles were seized. The captured men were transferred immediately to a prison in Tripoli.
The dawn assault mirrors another attack in Sebha a fortnight ago today. On that occasion the target was the headquarters of the Southern Region Military Command. Two soldiers were killed, Colonel Musa Rizkallah Awami, a pilot and Sami Mohamed Abdullah Abuaisha Barasi, a private. Three men were wounded, one of them seriously. At the time, the attack was blamed on smugglers, angry at a local crackdown on their activities.
The following day, the Military Governor of the Southern Region Ramadan Barasi said that he hoped the attack would galvanise the government into providing the extra resources that they had promised.
Barasi told Libya Alwataneya that the force under his command had insufficient equipment and only 600 men, when an establishment of 5,000 was the minimum to secure the border. “We were told we were exaggerating when we said this, ” he commented, “Now, after this incident, I hope they will understand the situation”
Barasi also pointed out that soldiers and police from the north of the country were reluctant to serve in the south, not least because the posting attracted no additional benefits not grants.
Following last fortnight’s attack, the military proposed a curfew from midnight to 0600 hours and the banning of all unauthorised weapons within urban areas. These measures have not yet been implemented.
It also emerged today that border police have arrested a group of Libyans, allegedly trying to enter the country from Egypt with pro-Qaddafi material, which, the police said, was supposed to be taken to Sebha. They added that the arrest operation had been intelligence-led. The suspects were taken to Benghazi.