Libyan who captured Qaddafi tortured, killed

In this undated handout photo released by the family of Omran Shaaban, Shaaban receives treatment from a doctor at a hospital in France. AP Photo, Family of Omran Shaaban

(AP) MISRATA, Libya - One of the young Libyan rebels credited with capturing Muammar Qaddafi in a drainage ditch nearly a year ago died Tuesday of injuries after being kidnapped, beaten and slashed by the late dictator's supporters - the latest victim of persistent violence and instability in the North African country.

The death of Omran Shaaban, who had been hospitalized in France, raised the prospect of even more violence and score-settling, with the newly elected National Congress authorizing police and the army to use force if necessary to apprehend those who abducted the 22-year-old and three companions in July near the town of Bani Walid.

Libya is battling lingering pockets of support for the old regime, and its government has been unable to rein in armed militias in a country rife with weapons. Earlier this month, a demonstration at the U.S. Consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi turned violent, killing four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador.

Shaaban was praised as a "dutiful martyr" by the National Congress, although his family says he never received a promised reward of 1 million Libyan dinars ($800,000) for capturing Qaddafi on Oct. 20, 2011, in the former leader's hometown of Sirte. The eccentric dictator was killed later that day by revolutionary fighters.

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The Libyan government said it would honor Shaaban with a funeral befitting a hero. His body was greeted at the airport in his hometown of Misrata by more than 10,000 people for a procession to a soccer stadium for funeral prayers.

Photos on social media websites showed a wooden coffin with a glass window that revealed Shaaban's face, with white gauze covering his head.

In the capital of Tripoli, several hundred protesters gathered outside the headquarters of the National Congress to demand that the government avenge Shaaban's death.

Shaaban's family said that he and three friends had been en route home to the western city of Misrata from a vacation in July when they were attacked by gunmen in an area called el-Shimekh near Bani Walid.

Shaaban and his friends, who like many Libyans were armed, fired back, the family said.

Two bullets hit Shaaban, and he was paralyzed from the waist down, his relatives said. The men were captured by militiamen from Bani Walid, a town of about 100,000 people that remains a stronghold of Qaddafi loyalists and is isolated from the rest of Libya.

President Mohammed el-Megarif visited Bani Walid this month and secured the release of Shaaban and two of his companions. A fourth is still being held.

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