Juma Obaidi al-Jazawi, a military prosecutor blamed by some for involvement in the killing of the commander-in-chief of Libya’s rebel forces last year, was shot dead as he left a city mosque.
Last July Jazawi signed an order for the arrest of the former commander Abdul Fatah Younes. Hours after Younes was arrested, separated from his bodyguards and taken to Benghazi for questioning, his burned, bullet-riddled body was found dumped in the town.
Jazawi has never explained the reason he ordered the arrest of Younes, and the authorities have yet to solve the case. His killing comes as Benghazi suffers an escalating campaign of violence that the government seems powerless to stop.
Last week an anti-tank rocket struck the convoy carrying the British ambassador, Dominic Asquith, in the town, wounding two security guards. That attack followed the bombing of the US consulate and the Red Cross headquarters in the town, and came after rocket attacks on a UN convoy and the destruction of 200 war graves, apparently by jihadists, in two Commonwealth cemeteries.
Last week one of the cemeteries was again vandalised and jihadists attacked the Tunisian consulate in Benghazi, reportedly as a protest at an exhibition of art in Tunisia that they deemed blasphemous.
Of most concern to foreign diplomats is the rocket attack on the British convoy because it took place 300 yards from the British consulate, in an area supposedly patrolled by the Libyan interior ministry’s gendarmerie, the special security committee. It is unclear how the attackers could lie in wait to launch an ambush without attracting attention.
The presence of jihadists in the town caused a mass confrontation last week when armed jeeps bearing black al-Qaida flags massed in the town centre. They were confronted by thousands of young people, summoned by a Facebook appeal, chanting pro-Libya and pro-democracy slogans, whose weight of numbers forced the armed units from the courthouse square.
This violence has spurred calls from many ordinary Benghazians for the newly elected city authorities to assume policing powers from a central government viewed as powerless to halt the violence.