TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Gunmen shot dead two policemen in Libya's second city and a state attorney was killed when a bomb blew up his car in an Islamist militant stronghold on Saturday, the latest violence to hit the country's restive east, security officials said.
Assassinations of public figures and security officials are frequent in Libya. Many killings are blamed on militias, which the government is struggling to control even as it continues to rely on many of them to impose order.
A security official in the city of Darna, known for its population of hard-liners, said a bomb struck a car carrying public attorney Mohammed Khalifa al-Naas. Another security official said unknown gunmen fired at a security patrol in a commercial area in Benghazi, Libya's second city, leaving two policemen dead.
The officials spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Also, the death toll from clashes between rival militias in the capital overnight Thursday triggered by the death of a militia commander from the city of Misrata has risen to four, according to Hashim Bishr, commander of Tripoli's security committee. The fighting in Tripoli caused panic, with residents running for cover, some abandoning their cars in the streets.
The shoot-out in Tripoli's streets has drawn condemnation from officials as well as the country's top cleric, Mufti al-Sadiq al-Ghiryani.
"Libya is going down a dangerous slippery road," al-Ghiryani said in a statement to local televisions late Friday, blaming the government for taking little action to stem the violence.
On Saturday, the local council for Tripoli also blamed the government, calling on it to identify the militias that work with the government, and to outlaw all others.
The local council for Misrata, for its part, said it would not allow armed men from the city to go outside its boundaries. The council, which has good connection with local tribesmen and leaders, had issued instructions that no weapons are to leave the city gates.
It is unclear whether the city's famously aggressive militias will comply, however.
The head of the council Attiyah al-Derini had apologized for the attack by the city's militia on their rivals in Tripoli, describing it as an act of individuals.
Also Saturday, about 300 protesters held a rally in Tripoli demanding elections for parliament before the end of the year, fearing the current interim body will seek to extend its mandate beyond February when a new vote is expected. Protesters carried banners that read, "No to extension. Yes for renewal."
The rally organizers, calling their movement Nov. 9, are calling for elections for individual candidates and not according to a party list system, used to elect the current body.
They say they are dismayed at the performance of political parties since the uprising. The interim parliament, Libya's first elected legislature since the 2011 uprising that toppled dictator Moammar Gadhafi, is deadlocked between non-Islamist and Islamist blocs, and pressure is mounting to remove Western-backed Prime Minister Ali Zidan.