Libya interior minister quits after Sufi shrine attacks

Bulldozers raze a Sufi shrine in Tripoli, 25 August
Image caption Men with bulldozers razed a Sufi shrine in Tripoli on Saturday

Libya's interior minister has quit in the wake of a series of attacks on Sufi Muslim shrines and other violence that has rocked the country.

Fawzi Abdelali resigned in protest at criticism from Congress over his handling of the violence, an aide said.

The latest incidents include attacks on two Sufi shrines that were blamed on ultra-conservative Salafi Islamists.

Attacks on shrines of sects have risen since the end of the eight-month civil war that toppled Col Muammar Gaddafi.

There has also been a recent double car bombing in Tripoli and clashes between rival tribes in Zlitan.


Fawzi Abdelali's aide said: "He submitted his resignation to protest against congressmen criticising the government and to defend the revolutionaries."

The newly elected General National Congress had accused the interior ministry's High Security Committee of failing to prevent the destruction of shrines.

The committee includes rebels who fought Gaddafi's forces last year and were then integrated into the interior ministry.

On Saturday, a shrine in Tripoli venerating Sufi Muslim saint al-Shaab al-Dahmani was partly destroyed by men with bulldozers.

A day earlier, a group attacked the tomb of 15th-Century Sufi scholar Abdel Salam al-Asmar in Zlitan, about 160km (100 miles) south-east of Tripoli.

Hardline Salafists regard the shrines of the Sufi sect - which practises a mystical form of Islam - as idolatrous.

The destruction in Zlitan followed two days of clashes between rival local tribes there which left at least three people dead.

A week ago in Tripoli, two people were killed by a double car bombing as people celebrated the Muslim feast of Eid al-Fitr.

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