Libya: Sufis under attack —again

With Islamist-led militia in nearly complete control of the Libyan capital, the historic Othman Pasha Madrassa in Tripoli's Old City was vandalized Oct. 11 by a crowd of gunmen. The door to the madrassa was smashed, books and Korans stolen, and the tree in the center of the courtyard chopped down, in "an act of apparent sheer vindictiveness." The madrassa was apparently targeted because it has for many years been a Sufi institution. It had been similarly attacked two years ago, with graves from its cemetery dug up and the remains removed. Also Oct. 11, gunmen attempted to invade the Darghouth Mosque across a narrow street from the madrassa, but were prevented by armed locals. (Libya Herald, Oct. 12)

At least 21 people were killed and more than 60 wounded in clashes west of Tripoli over the weekend. Witnesses said pro-government militia from the hill town of Zintan attacked the neighboring town of Kekla which supports their Islamist-led Libyan Dawn coalition. (AFP

In Benghazi, a car bomb killed one person and wounded another Oct. 11. The blast came just outside the Tibesti hotel in a square popular as a gathering place for demonstrations in support of Libya's army, although there were no demonstrations planned for the day. Members of Ansar al-Sharia have been advancing on Benghazi airport, the last bastion held by pro-government forces in the port city. The Islamist fighters have already overrun several army camps. At least 17 people have been killed this week in fighting for control of the airport, the last redoubt of forces loyal to former Gen. Khalifa Haftar who launched a campaign against the fighters in May. Lawmakers fear that Ansar al-Sharia might next advance on Tobruk, where Libya's parliament has taken refuge. (Al Jazeera, Oct. 11)