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Speculation rife over Libyan rebel general Younes's assassination

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Reuters/Esam al-Fetori

Who killed Libyan rebel General Abdel Fatah Younes? Benghazi is plunged into speculation – as is the world’s media – the day after Transitional National Council (NTC) chief Mustafa Abdel Jalil announced that the rebellion's military leader had been murdered on the road to the rebel capital.


Jalil said an armed group was responsible for Thursday's assassination and that one of those responsible had been arrested. But he refused to gave further details.

THE BATTLE FOR LIBYA

Two of Younes’s aides, a colonel and a major, were also shot dead.

Jalil did say that Younes had been called in for questioning.

Earlier in the day Al Jazeera reported that Younes, who was Moamer Kadhafi’s interior minister before defecting in February, had been arrested by his own side because either he or his family was believed to have maintained links with the Tripoli regime.

Several theories as to who is responsible are now circulating:

  • A pro-Kadhafi hit squad: Jalil and TNC chiefs insist this is the case but Younes always travelled with a convoy of gunmen, raising doubts that this would have been possible.
  • The NTC: Shortly after the announcement, two vehicles carrying armed men shooting in the air arrived at Tibesti hotel, where the Jalil’s press conference took place. A witness said they entered the hotel, shouting “You [the NTC] killed him" but security forces convinced them to leave.
  • A rival rebel faction: The NTC brings together very varied ideological and tribal groups and political or factional opponents could have been responsible. In March Younes was locked in conflict with General Khalifa Hefter, who defected from Kadhfi’s regime more than 20 years ago and lives in Virginia, USA. Hefter was squeezed out after a whispering campaign that he was a CIA asset and untrustworthy.
  • Militias with no fixed loyalty: At the press conference Jalil issued a “last call” to armed groups operating in several rebel-held cities to join the rebel forces.

TNC troops made some advances Thursday, the day after Britain kicked out the last pro-Kadhafi diplomats and recognised the rebel council.

They captured the town of Al-Ghazaya, some 12 kilometres from the Tunisian frontier, and the hamlet of Umm Al-Far, 10 kilometres north-east of it.