Libyan rebels say their military chief shot dead

BENGHAZI, Libya Thu Jul 28, 2011 6:38pm EDT

Head of the rebel forces Abdel Fattah Younes attends a news conference in Benghazi in this April 5, 2011 file photograph. REUTERS/Esam al-Fetori/Files

Head of the rebel forces Abdel Fattah Younes attends a news conference in Benghazi in this April 5, 2011 file photograph.

Credit: Reuters/Esam al-Fetori/Files

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BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - The head of the Libyan rebels' military campaign against Muammar Gaddafi was shot dead by assailants on Thursday, the top rebel leader said.

Abdel Fattah Younes was part of the group involved in the 1969 coup that brought Gaddafi to power, and was interior minister before he defected and took a senior position in the rebellion in February.

"We received news today that ... Younes and two of his bodyguards were shot at after he was called in to appear before a judicial committee investigating military issues," rebel leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil told reporters in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

Some rebels were never comfortable with an army leader who had until recently been so close to Gaddafi, and Younes had been involved in a dispute over the leadership of the rebel forces.

Jalil said Younes was shot before appearing in front of the judicial committee and the head of the armed cell that killed him had been arrested.

It was not clear where Younes and his bodyguards had been killed or how Jalil had learned of their deaths, but Jalil said all efforts were being made to find their bodies.

Shortly afterwards, gunmen burst into the grounds of the hotel where Jalil was speaking and fired bursts of shots in the air, a Reuters reporter said.

(Reporting by Rania El Gamal in Benghazi; Joseph Nasr in Berlin; editing by David Lewis)

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