Libyan Rebel Leader's Death Fuels Fears Of Fracturing A senior military commander of Libya's rebel forces, Abdel-Fattah Younis, was killed Thursday after being summoned for questioning by rebel authorities. Uncertainty surrounds the circumstances of his death.
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Libyan Rebel Leader's Death Fuels Fears Of Fracturing

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Libyan Rebel Leader's Death Fuels Fears Of Fracturing

Libyan Rebel Leader's Death Fuels Fears Of Fracturing

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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

And Lourdes, what happened?

LOURDES GARCIA: The problem is that within this uncertainty, there's a lot of room for suspicion to grow. Younis was a member of one of the biggest tribes here and they're very angry, and they may seek retribution. And they're also his loyalists, as well.

INSKEEP: Well, let's talk about that for a moment. When you say one of the biggest tribes there, how highly organized in the rebel areas is society by tribe?

GARCIA: So clearly, the tribal element is going to be a big one in this. But it depends on who did this. What is the reason that Abdel Fatah Younis was murdered?

INSKEEP: So, not only do we have confusion about who killed this man, you're saying that there are members of his tribe who are standing with the government and members of his tribe who seem to be angry at the government at the same time.

GARCIA: And beyond that, the fallout could also be just from the military standpoint. Right now, you know, Abdel Fatah Younis was a very senior leader. He was very important in the ongoing battles against Gadhafi. There are three frontlines, one in the western mountains, one in Misrata and one here in the east. He was heavily involved in orchestrating those battles. Right now, the atmosphere within the rebel ranks is one of suspicion and confusion.

INSKEEP: How had the rebels been doing on the battlefield in the last few days and weeks?

GARCIA: But the rebels have made a lot of advances in the western side of the country, in the western mountains. There was a battle yesterday for a town near the border with Tunisia, and the rebels took it very easily.

INSKEEP: Is this killing raising questions about unity within the entire rebel movement, whether there are many people who might be suspecting each other or turning on each other?

GARCIA: Beyond that, this apparent assassination, murder will only exacerbate those tensions. Nobody knows right now who to trust. Everyone I've spoken to says we don't know who's behind this. We don't know why he was killed. And if he was murdered or killed, why would someone do this? Why would someone try and exploit these divisions? Fingers are being pointed in every direction.

INSKEEP: Thanks very much.

GARCIA: You're welcome.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News.

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