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Death of Libyan rebel raises calls for vengeance

Published: Sunday, Aug. 2 2015 9:07 p.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) 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.

In this undated handout photo released by the family of Omran Shaaban, Shaaban receives treatment from a doctor at a hospital in France. Less than a year after helping drag Moammar Gadhafi from a drainage ditch, a 22-year-old former rebel was captured by the slain leader's supporters who beat, cut and killed him, his family says. The death of Omran Shabaan has brought calls for revenge and highlights the challenges facing Libya _ pockets of support for the deposed regime, the new government's inability to rein in militias and the potential for violence like the killing of the U.S. ambassador. (AP Photo, Family of Omran Shaaban) (Associated Press) In this undated handout photo released by the family of Omran Shaaban, Shaaban receives treatment from a doctor at a hospital in France. Less than a year after helping drag Moammar Gadhafi from a drainage ditch, a 22-year-old former rebel was captured by the slain leader's supporters who beat, cut and killed him, his family says. The death of Omran Shabaan has brought calls for revenge and highlights the challenges facing Libya _ pockets of support for the deposed regime, the new government's inability to rein in militias and the potential for violence like the killing of the U.S. ambassador. (AP Photo, Family of Omran Shaaban) (Associated Press)

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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