Safety group sounds Benghazi alarm

April 18, 2013 at 10:35 AM

LONDON, April 18 (UPI) -- There are signs of growing divisions in the Libyan military ahead of protests in Benghazi, a group monitoring journalists' safety said.

The International News Safety Institute reported that a military helicopter dropped leaflets over Benghazi this week calling for demonstrations Friday. While the military called for neutrality, ISNI said a squadron commander permitted the use of the helicopter.

"The use of a military helicopter authorized by a squadron commander, but not by his commanding officer, suggests divisions within the ranks of the military," it said.

ISNI said allegations surfaced at the beginning of the year that Benghazi may consider secession from Libya, left fractured in the wake of civil war.

The U.S. State Department warned last month the security situation in Libya is "unpredictable." In January, the British government said it was "aware of a specific, imminent threat to Westerners in Benghazi."

A September attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi left U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three of staff members dead.

Members of the House of Representatives questioned Secretary of State John Kerry on the attack during a hearing Wednesday. Kerry expressed frustration over the questioning, saying it was time to move past the debate.

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