Protesters storm Libya's parliament: Witnesses

AFP , Sunday 2 Mar 2014

A man holds the Libyan flag amid fire after protesters set tyres on fire in a street during a demonstration against the General National Congress in Benghazi (Photo: Reuters)

Dozens of protesters on Sunday stormed Libya's interim parliament, the General National Congress, with some of them rampaging through the building, witnesses said.

The protesters demanded the dissolution of the GNC and railed against the "kidnapping" overnight of demonstrators from a sit-in outside the parliament.

In a brief statement, the justice ministry denounced the abduction "of youths who were expressing their views".

Earlier protesters said gunmen had broken up the sit-in on Saturday night before detaining some of them, without being able to give a figure.

"Armed men came firing in the air and they set fire to a tent set up by demonstrators" in front of the GNC, Libya's highest political authority, said protester Milad al-Arbi.

On Sunday, residents blocked roads in the area to demand the release of those held, an AFP photographer said.

According to demonstrators, the gunmen belonged to the Operations Cell of Libyan Revolutionaries, a former rebel group which operates under the GNC's command.

The Congress, elected after the 2011 revolution which ousted Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, has stirred popular anger by extending its mandate, which was due to expire in early February, until the end of December.

Under pressure from demonstrators, the GNC has announced that early elections will be held but without setting a date.

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