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Libya rebel leader Younes killed, Benghazi wobbles

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Then Mustapha Abdul Jalil, the head of the TNC, called a press conference. He said that Younes was killed along with two colonels working with him on the road from Brega to Benghazi and, oddly, that he didn't know where their bodies were. Mr. Jalil said, and other supporters of the rebellion insistently agreed, that Younes had been killed by agents of Qaddafi. That is hard to believe given the security around the men and the earlier claims that Younes was in the process of being arrested for allegedly working as a sort of double agent, still in contact with Qaddafi's people, and, in some accounts, pilfering weapons from the rebellion to send to Tripoli.

Benghazi is east of Brega, and the road east of town is largely in rebel hands. Younes typically traveled with a convoy of gunmen. Jalil urged Libyans not to listen to "rumors" and said a three-day mourning period would be observed for Younes.

Another explanation is that Younes was killed by supporters of the rebellion, either out of anger over allegations that he maintained ties to Qaddafi or as a matter of tribal or political rivalry. In March, Younes was locked in a cold war of sorts with Gen. Khalifa Hefter, who defected from the Qaddafi regime more than 20 years ago and has lived for most of the time since then in Virginia.

After Hefter returned home in March, he declared himself – with the clear backing of at least some of the rebel leadership – the new head of the rebel military. Weeks were spent jockeying for position, with whispers on one side about Younes's Qaddafi ties, and whispers on the other that Hefter was a CIA asset and not to be trusted as a longtime exile. Younes ended up winning that round and Hefter has been largely behind the scenes since.

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