Libya Gives Islamist Militias 2 Days to Get Out

11 killed amid weekend protests; CIA sees setback
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Sep 24, 2012 9:31 AM CDT
Soldiers from the Libyan National Army get ready to enter a militia compound in Benghazi, Libya, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012.   (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon)

(Newser) – Libya is working to drive out more armed groups after protesters' success against a militia blamed in the death of US ambassador Chris Stevens. Authorities have told "all illegitimate militias" they've got two days to "be removed from compounds and hand over their weapons to the national army," says a defense ministry spokesman. Over the weekend, protesters took over three militia bases; 11 people were killed in the process, the Guardian reports. "What happened was a big mess," says army commander General Hamad Belkhair. "But it has left the government clearly in control of the streets."

Some militias are taking heed of the government's warnings, announcing they're calling it quits amid the backlash. Those groups include Ansar al-Sharia, blamed in Stevens' death. But others haven't given up; Belkhair was kidnapped for six hours on Saturday and finally released safely. Meanwhile, the attack on the US consulate earlier this month has created a roadblock for US intelligence efforts: Some dozen CIA agents and contractors were among those evacuated from Benghazi following the attack, the New York Times reports. "It’s a catastrophic intelligence loss," says a US official, even as the region grows more volatile. "We got our eyes poked out." (Read more Libya stories.)

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