Libyan rebels arrest 'Gaddafi death squad' that killed journalist

Four men have been arrested for the murder of an Al Jazeera journalist, and rebel officials claim evidence has emerged that Muammar Gaddafi's regime is sending undercover squads to carry out assassinations.

The Independent was told that four men were caught in the city of Ajdabiya with evidence linking them to the death of Ali Hassan Al Jaber, who was killed near Benghazi on Saturday. Under questioning, the suspects allegedly confessed that they had been ordered to silence opposition figures and drive out international presence from territories of the protest movement.

Mohammed al-Majberi, a commander of militant fighters, the Shabaab, said: "The men had five guns, some of them with silencers and they also had night sights. Bullets from two of them matched those used to kill the Al Jazeera journalist. The men were dressed in civilian clothing and they had thousands of dinars in cash. But they told us that they were carrying out orders and they had not done the killing for money."

Mr Majberi displayed an Ak-47 with markings stating "502 Khetiba", which he said were used by the 32nd Brigade of the Libyan Army. "We had to chase the men for five hours after a patrol found them at about 1am on Sunday. They were driving a modified pick-up truck of the type used by some units in the army. They said they were from Sabha [in the south] where, as we know, some people support Gaddafi," he said.

The death of Mr Jaber, a cameraman and Qatari national, has added to the tension in Benghazi with a number of foreign journalists pulling out, either to Tobruk or to another country. Al Jazeera said: "This is part of the Libyan government's malicious campaign targeting Al Jazeera and its staff."

The claims of death squads came as warplanes carried out raids on Ajdabiya, the only city under rebel control before Benghazi, capital of the recently established provisional government. Seizing Ajdabiya would give Colonel Gaddafi's troops access to roads leading south to Tobruk and eastern areas. This would give them the potential to close the border with Egypt, the main source of supplies for the rebel-held part of the country and attempt to encircle Benghazi. But taking Ajdabiya – larger and more heavily-populated than areas which pro-Gaddafi troops had captured in recent days – may prove difficult. Yesterday planes dropped leaflets on the city asking residents to "help catch the criminals who are causing disturbances". State television announced that an amnesty would be offered to anyone who gave up their weapons. Rebel officials claimed yesterday their units had gone back into Brega, an oil port recently captured by regime forces. "They have pushed out most of the Gaddafi men. There are still some hiding in houses and they are being hunted down," Ahmed Husseini, of the Shabaab, said.

The claims could not be verified because journalists were prevented from going forward from Ajdabiya to investigate. The rebels had initially courted the international media, but as they lost ground there had been repeated accusations that the regime was tracking down locations of their positions from television footage.

Meanwhile, Britain and France continued to push for the declaration of a no-fly zone over Libya at a meeting of G8 foreign ministers in Paris.

In a statement to the Commons yesterday, Prime Minister David Cameron said imposing a no-fly zone was "perfectly deliverable".

Regional round-up

Yemen

Three soldiers were killed yesterday in clashes with anti-government protesters in the north of the country, while a provincial governor was hospitalised after being stabbed in the neck during a confrontation with protesters in the eastern province of Marib.

Military forces have been deployed throughout Yemen to try to contain weeks of often bloody rallies demanding that President Ali Abdullah Saleh step down after 32 years in power. At least seven demonstrators have been killed in clashes since Saturday.

Yesterday, authorities also deported four Western journalists. A British reporter said that he and the three others were told they had to leave because of the stories they were writing, the Associated Press news agency reported.

Jordan

The country's largest opposition party, which has been pushing for reform, says its leader has been threatened and is now under police protection. Hamza Mansour, of the Islamic Action Front, had called for the Prime Minister to be elected rather than appointed and addressed about 4,000 pro-reform protesters earlier this month.



Egypt

Thousands of Christians who have been protesting in Cairo against ill-treatment and the burning of a church near the capital will suspend their demonstration for a week. Thirteen people were killed and 140 injured in sectarian clashes earlier this month, in one of the biggest tests yet for the military government that replaced President Hosni Mubarak.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
people
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Arts and Entertainment
The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit director Peter Jackson with his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
film
News
people
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Manufacturing Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a rare opportunity for ...

Recruitment Genius: Conveyancing Fee Earner / Technical Support

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An experienced Fee Earner/Techn...

Recruitment Genius: Receptionist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This law firm is seeking a happy, helpful and ...

The Jenrick Group: Production Supervisor

£26000 - £29000 per annum + Holidays & Pension: The Jenrick Group: Production ...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'