The powerful Islamist militia Washington blames the attack on its Benghazi consulate which was swept from its heavily fortified bases in Libya’s second city in a mass popular uprising in support of the government early on Saturday.
The action against Ansar al-Sharia appeared to be part of a coordinated sweep of militia headquarters buildings by police, government troops and activists following a mass public demonstration against militia units on Friday.
At least four people were killed and 34 wounded, hospital sources said, as militants fought demonstrators. Gunfire could be heard in the area before the fighters were forced out.
Looters carried weapons out of the vacated Ansar al-Sharia military base compound as men clapped and chanted: “Say to Ansar al-Sharia, Benghazi will be your inferno.”
Ansar al-Sharia has been linked to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi last week in which the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans died. It denies involvement.
Chanting “Libya, Libya”, “No more al Qaeda!” and “The blood we shed for freedom shall not go in vain!” hundreds of men waving swords and even a meat cleaver, stormed Ansar al-Sharia’s headquarters in Benghazi.
“After what happened at the American consulate, the people of Benghazi had enough of the extremists,” demonstrator Hassan Ahmed said. “They did not give allegiance to the army. So the people broke in and they fled.”
Demonstrators pulled down militia flags and set a vehicle on fire inside what was once the base of former leader Muammar Gaddafi’s security forces who tried to put down the first protests that sparked last year’s uprising