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Shocking murders expose Libyan government's weakness

Twelve men were killed in Tripoli upon their release from prison, raising questions about relations between the Government of National Accord and militias.
A security officer stands with his weapon on a road leading to a police station in Benghazi December 4, 2014. Police stations, prisons and the local security headquarters have reopened in Libya's eastern city of Benghazi for the first time in over a year, officials said, after pro-government forces seized back part of the port city. Medics say around 450 people have been killed in a two-month offensive by pro-government forces which has restored some sense of normality in parts of the city, though fighting

On June 10, Libyans awoke to yet another horrific event — news of the shooting deaths of 12 men whose bodies were then disposed of at different locations around Tripoli. What actually happened and who is to blame remains far from clear. Emerging details suggest the same old pattern of armed militias claiming nominal loyalty to the government acting with impunity. The United Nations urged the Government of National Accord (GNA) on June 13 to investigate the murders, and the GNA has promised to do so and hold the perpetrators accountable. The case, however, has raised suspicions about the government's power and its relationship to militias, which it is supposed to be taming.

Innocent people get killed almost every day in Libya, but this time it is different. All 12 men had been granted conditional release by court order, and their families had been notified to come to the Ain Zara prison, just south of Tripoli, to pick them up. Their murders marked the second single-day mass killing in Libya since nearly 50 civilians were killed on Nov. 15, 2013, by Misrata militias in what became known as the Gharghour massacre, referring to the southwestern Tripoli district where the massacre took place.

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