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Libyan Army Official Shot Dead in East Amid Wave of Violence

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Aug. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Gunmen killed a senior army official in Libya’s port city of Derna, east of Benghazi, where militants have attacked courthouses, police stations and assassinated three prominent figures over the past week.

Shortly after evening prayers yesterday, Colonel Adnan Al Nueiseri’s car was sprayed by bullets, and two sons traveling with him were wounded, state-owned Libya News Agency reported. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Hours earlier, Prime Minister Ali Zaidan announced the creation of a crisis committee to tackle rising unrest in the country, holder of Africa’s largest crude reserves. The ministers of foreign affairs, interior, justice, finance, as well as the head of external intelligence will meet daily, he said in a news conference in Tripoli. The defense minister, who has yet to be named, will also join in, Zaidan said.

Libya is struggling with its transition to democracy, two years after the uprising that removed Muammar Qaddafi from power. Militias vying for political influence are ignoring calls to disband as sit-ins by workers at oil installations disrupt exports, the lifeblood of the country’s economy.

In Benghazi, a senior army official was killed two days ago, at least 43 people were wounded in attacks on the city’s courthouse and prosecutor’s office July 28, and three people - a Libyan human rights activist, a police colonel and retired air force colonel - were killed in separate assaults July 26.

On July 29, the government appointed Colonel Abdel-Salam Al Obeidi as chief of staff, filling a post that had been vacant since June 9 when Yousseff Mangoush resigned after militias in Benghazi opened fire on protesters, killing 30.

It wasn’t immediately clear which groups were responsible for the incidents. Several radical Islamist militias are present in the east, including Ansar al-Sharia. Their calls for an Islamic state have been opposed by central authorities, several armed militia from the west and the secular National Front Alliance, the biggest political bloc in the 200-strong General National Congress, or parliament.

The recent surge in violence has been condemned by The United Nations Support Mission in Libya, which called on the government to address security challenges.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mariam Sami in Tripoli at msami2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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