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Libya rebel leader Younes killed, Benghazi wobbles

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Esam Al-Fetori/Reuters/File

(Read caption) Head of the rebel forces Abdel Fattah Younes gestures as he arrives at Green Square in the Kish, Benghazi in this July 6, file photo. Younes was shot dead by assailants on Thursday, according to Libyan rebel leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil.

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That Abdel Fateh Younes, the longtime enforcer for Muammar Qaddafi whose stunning defection to the Libyan rebellion in February was an early indication of the depth of the challenge to Qaddafi's regime, is dead, you can take to the bank. General Younes had been head of the embryonic rebel army from practically the moment he'd switched sides.

As far as the rest of the story – who killed him, when, precisely where, and why – all remains murk and conjecture, created by cross-cutting rivalries within the rebellion and the often misleading and contradictory way that Libya's Transitional National Council (TNC) communicates with the press and the Libyan public.

This afternoon, reports began to trickle out of the de facto rebel capital Benghazi that Younes was variously under arrest or summoned for questioning by some other element of the rebellion. An early Al Jazeera English post said that "he is being held at an undisclosed military garrison in Benghazi. The reason behind the former minister of interior’s arrest on Thursday has not been made public." Al Jazeera reported that some of Younes's men had withdrawn from the frontlines at Brega and were heading to Benghazi to demand his release.

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