Clashes between protesters and militias aligned with the military in Libya's eastern city of Benghazi left 27 people killed and dozens wounded, a health official said today. The violence broke out yesterday after protesters stormed a base belonging to Libya Shield, a grouping of militias tasked with maintaining security. The protesters were demanding that militias leave their camp and submit to the full authority of Libya's security forces.
The death toll is likely to increase public backlash against militias, who have been accused of acting with impunity, abusing citizens, and enforcing their own agendas. Libyan officials have provided few details of the clashes. Witnesses say some of the protesters came armed. The camp was believed to house dozens of Libya Shield militiamen, while the protesters who attacked their camp were estimated to number several hundred. Hospital officials said the protesters made up most of the casualties. Prime Minister Ali Zidan described the events as "sad and painful" and urged people to be cautious and exercise self-restraint. (Read more Libya stories.)