TRIPOLI, Libya — Gunmen shot and killed a newspaper editor who was an outspoken critic of Islamists in Libya's volatile east on Monday, in a targeted killing that came hours after he warned the Islamist-led parliament of a civil war if it didn't bow to widespread demands to disband and allow early elections.
Libya is deeply polarized, with a renegade general having launched an armed campaign against Islamists, who dominate the elected parliament and who on Sunday approved a new prime minister days after thousands held demonstrations demanding the assembly halt sessions. The demonstrators also accused it of financing Islamist militias.
A security official said the 50-year-old Moftah Abu Zeid, chief editor of the Brnieq newspaper, was attacked while driving down a main street in the eastern city of Benghazi, cradle of the 2011 revolt that toppled and killed longtime ruler Moammar Gadhafi. Over the last three years the city has seen near-daily attacks targeting security forces, activists, judges and moderate clerics.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters, said the assailants fled the scene.
The paper posted pictures of the slain journalist's body on its Facebook page and an image of his silver car, with the driver's side window shattered. The daily al-Wasat quoted a medical official as saying that Abu Zeid was shot three times in the head and abdomen.
In an interview with the Libya al-Ahrar TV network broadcast late Sunday, Abu Zeid said that he had met with Gen. Khalifa Hifter, who is leading an offensive against Islamic militants in the city, and warned of a civil war if the parliament remained in place. Another paper, London-based al-Quds al-Arabi, had quoted him three days ago as saying that he received a warning to leave the country in 24 hours.
His newspaper last week carried a front-page picture of Hifter, and the editor, who was also a human rights activist, later said militiamen halted a shipment of the last issue on its way from Benghazi to the capital Tripoli.