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Report: Protesters, militia members clash in Benghazi; 28 die

From Jomana Karadsheh, CNN
updated 10:56 AM EDT, Mon June 10, 2013
Libyan protesters are pictured during clashes with the Libyan Shield brigade on Saturday.
Libyan protesters are pictured during clashes with the Libyan Shield brigade on Saturday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Libya's Interior Ministry and the ruling Local Council urge "self-restraint"
  • Protesters attacked the Benghazi headquarters of a Libyan militia, report says
  • Demonstrators were demanding the militia turn over security to the military
  • Libyan Shield brigade is made up of former rebel fighters

(CNN) -- At least 28 people died and 55 were wounded Saturday in clashes between protesters and members of a Libyan government-affiliated militia operating in the coastal city of Benghazi, the Libyan state news agency reported.

The violence began when protesters attacked the headquarters of the Libyan Shield brigade, demanding the militia turn over responsibility for its security operations to the military, LANA reported.

Benghazi's ruling Local Council and the Libyan Interior Ministry issued separate statements calling for "self-restraint" and an immediate end to the bloodshed.

It's been nearly two years since the overthrow of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, and the new government has reinforced its military by contracting with a number of militia groups.

Anger toward the militias, which are predominantly made up of former rebel fighters, has been building since Gadhafi's overthrow.

It boiled over after some militias laid siege to government ministries in the capital city of Tripoli in April in an attempt to force the government to pass a law that would ban Gadhafi-era officials from holding office.

Libya's government has acknowledged problems with trying to disarm arm and control a number of militias.

The Libyan Shield brigade has previously said it is operating in Benghazi with the approval of the Ministry of Defense.

Last year, protesters in Benghazi attacked a number of militia offices as part over the public anger that followed the attack on the U.S. Consulate that left the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans dead.

ICC to Libya: Hand over Gadhafi's son

CNN's Chelsea J. Carter contributed to this report.

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