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Mourning period begins for Benghazi protest victims; probe ordered

June 10, 2013 at 7:53 AM   |   Comments

TRIPOLI, Libya, June 10 (UPI) -- Three days of national mourning began Monday to honor people killed in protests in Benghazi, Libya, the General National Congress announced.

The Congress' acting head, Juma Ateega, said lawmakers directed the attorney general to appoint a judge to investigate the violent weekend protests in which 30 people died, the Libya Herald reported. He told the Defense Ministry and general staff to pursue legal action against those who violated military rules and regulations.

Prime Minister Ali Zeidan called the events in Benghazi "sad and painful."

"What happened is a tragic loss not just to Benghazi but to the whole country and I ask everyone to have patience and restraint in a bid to end the bloodshed," Zeidan said in a statement Monday. "Fighting has to stop; it only results in loss."

Youssef al-Mangoush, the Libyan army chief of staff, resigned Sunday after clashes between protesters and armed militias in Benghazi resulted in the deaths. Mangoush was considered the person responsible for much of the country's conflict with the armed militias, which protesters complained were given special status by the government, observers said.

About 200 protesters gathered outside the Libya Shield headquarters Saturday. The conflict started after a members of a family said they owned the building and demanded the militia leave.

Ateega said Congress also instructed government offices to develop a plan that can be implemented before the end of the year that would shutter semi-legal battalions and illegal armed organizations in Libya, the Herald reported.

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