A Libyan man holds a sign that reads in Arabic 'Libya is one tribe' as flames rise from a security structure outside the courthouse in the eastern city of Benghazi on March 16, 2012 during clashes between backers and opponents of federalism that killed one person and wounded at least five. (Getty Images)
TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Thousands of Libyan protesters rallying Friday in an eastern city to press for an autonomous region were attacked by armed men wielding rifles and knifes, witnesses said. One person was killed.
One of the protesters, Bashar al-Denali, said armed assailants charged into the crowd and opened fire. Protesters panicked and fled the square which was then occupied by the armed men, he said.
Another protester Omar al-Mesmari said assailants attacked an office of a local Libyan television station, Libya Al-Ahrar, to prevent it from covering and broadcasting the demonstration.
Benghazi militia fighters, who are responsible for security in the city, deployed forces and chased the attackers, witnesses said.
An official at the hospital in Benghazi, Youssef al-Sayati, said one person was killed and six others injured, two critically.