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Death of Libyan rebel raises calls for vengeance

By Esam Mohamed and Aya Batrawy

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 26 2012 12:20 a.m. MDT

In this undated handout photo released by the family of Omran Shaaban, Shaaban receives treatment from a doctor at a hospital in France.

Associated Press

MISRATA, Libya — One of the young Libyan rebels credited with capturing Moammar Gadhafi in a drainage ditch nearly a year ago died Tuesday of injuries after being kidnapped, beaten and slashed by the late dictator's supporters — the latest victim of persistent violence and instability in the North African country.

The death of Omran Shaaban, who had been hospitalized in France, raised the prospect of even more violence and score-settling, with the newly elected National Congress authorizing police and the army to use force if necessary to apprehend those who abducted the 22-year-old and three companions in July near the town of Bani Walid.

Libya is battling lingering pockets of support for the old regime, and its government has been unable to rein in militias in a country rife with weapons. Earlier this month, a demonstration at the U.S. Consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi turned violent, killing four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador.

Shaaban was praised as a "dutiful martyr" by the National Congress, although his family says he never received a promised reward of 1 million Libyan dinars ($800,000) for capturing Gadhafi on Oct. 20, 2011, in the former leader's hometown of Sirte. The eccentric dictator was killed later that day by revolutionary fighters.

The Libyan government said it would honor Shaaban with a funeral befitting a hero. His body was greeted at the airport in his hometown of Misrata by more than 10,000 people for a procession to a soccer stadium for funeral prayers.

Photos on social media websites showed a wooden coffin with a glass window that revealed Shaaban's face.

In the capital of Tripoli, several hundred protesters gathered outside the headquarters of the National Congress to demand that the government avenge Shaaban's death.

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