Benghazi – A Libyan militia gang leader accused of major human rights violations has been shot dead at a farm in the eastern city of Benghazi, a military source said on Tuesday.
Mohammed al-Kani was gunned down after resisting members of the military who had arrived bearing an arrest warrant accusing him of war crimes, the source who requested anonymity added.
Kani led the Kaniyat, a gang of six brothers who commanded a militia that traumatised the town of Tarhuna in war-ravaged Libya, systematically executing not only their opponents but slaughtering their entire families.
The brothers paraded through the town some 80km southeast of the capital in shows of force – with a pair of leashed lions roaring at the crowd.
Libya has been ravaged by conflict since the fall and killing of veteran dictator Muammar Gaddafi in a Nato-backed 2011 revolt, and an array of armed groups and militia forces arose to fill the vacuum.
In Tarhuna, it was Kaniyat militia that took power in 2015.
It first supported the internationally backed government in Tripoli, but later switched sides and backed eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar, main rival of the Tripoli government.
Human Rights Watch says at least 338 people were abducted or reported missing during the five-year rule of the Kaniyat in Tarhuna.
The brothers were toppled from power last year, but their shadow still hangs over the town.
So far, 150 bodies have been exhumed in a slow process that began in June 2020 after the town was captured from Haftar’s forces.
Last November the United States Treasury announced sanctions against the Kaniyat, and in May this year, Britain also imposed sanctions on the brothers over their “reign of terror” in Tarhuna.
An interim unity government came into being in Libya in March, replacing the rival administrations in Tripoli and in the east, ahead of elections in December this year.
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