With around 140 civilians killed by Qaddafi’s forces here, this city witnessed bloodshed on a ferocious scale in February. Cellphone videos are passed from device to device by Benghazi’s citizens, showing corpses split in two by heavy weapons fire, frightened mercenary troops captured by the rebels, and hospital floors bathed in gore. And each day brings fresh revelations about the past…
At dusk, crowds gather on the waterfront to wave flags and pray for the Libyan dead, both the recent “martyrs” and those who vanished in long ago suppressed prison massacres. Nader Mazk, a giant of a man,explains how he – a professional bodybuilder – became a volunteer soldier, as he picks his way through the remains of Benghazi’s torched secret police headquarters. “I am so angry, so angry to see these records of dead men,” he says, picking through the archives of a torturous regime. “I wish Qaddafi dead.”
He is one of hundreds to sign up for a rebel boot camp designed to bolster the expected assault on Tripoli. But there are those like 20year old Jameela, who are more intent on rebuilding their shattered society than on revenge: she is excited by the possibilities of a new life for her entire family. We also meet an engineer who tells of torture at the hands of Qaddafi’s police forces, and the death of his relatives in custody. And rebel military and political leaders explain their current strategy, and what they envision for their country’s future.
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