Libya celebrates its first national Liberation Day, a year after the country deposed of Moammar Gadhafi's rule. By Gaia Anderson
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was captured in Sirte a year ago, on October 20, putting an end to a bloody uprising. Three days later, the country was declared liberated. October 23 has became a national holiday in the calendar of a country still struggling for stability.
Juma Shabaan holds up the photo of his son Omran, the Misrati fighter credited with Gadhafi's capture in Sirte, holding two of the ex-leader's personal pistols. Last July Omran was abducted by Bani Walid militiamen and released two months later, fatally injured. Omran's family believes he was the target for Gadhafi sympathizers wanting to take revenge for the death of the ex-leader.
A caricature of Gadhafi hangs in Martyr's Museum in Misrata. In present day Libya, many of those who fought against Gadhafi believe that until all the vestiges of the old regime are removed, with Bani Walid representing the hotbed of Gadhafi loyalists, stability in the country will never be achieved.
One of the two pistols found among Gadhafi's belongings was taken by Omran Shabaan last year in Sirte and kept as a trophy. Bullet holes were found in Omran's body the day he was released in a coma last September. He died shortly afterwards but no autopsy was performed to investigate further the circumstances that led to his death.
After Omran Shabban's death, the Libyan Congress sent out an order to arrest those suspected of capturing and torturing him, and to use force if necessary. The local authorities in Bani Walid refused to hand over the suspects, causing tensions to boil over into a full-on siege.
Omran's father, Juma, says the Shabaan family has doubts regarding the circumstances surrounding Omran's abduction and killing by Bani Walid militiamen, whose rivalry with the city of Misrata goes back many years. As a revolutionary hero, Omran was the perfect target for an act of vengeance by the diehard supporters of the former regime.
At a check point manned by security officials acting as government forces, scores of cars filled with families hope to escape the recent violence in Bani Walid. The siege of Bani Walid highlights the government's inability to reconcile former rebel fighters and Gadhafi loyalists. Many fear that this will not be Libya's last battle.
Omran was one of eight children. A large family house in Misrata is where his mother and father lead a simple life, with the grandchildren often entertaining the household. The new generations of Libya will have many tales of war and death to forget or to keep recounting.
As battles rage in Bani Walid and anger rises among the ones that have lost trust or never truly supported the post-Gadhafi government, life takes a semblance of normality in Tripoli's historical suk.
The first anniversary of Gadhafi's death coincided with days of turmoil in the country. On October 20, official government dispatches announced the arrest of former regime spokesmen, Mussa Ibrahim, and later on in the day, the killing of Khmais Gadhafi in Bani Walid. Both claims proved unfounded and officials later had to apologize.
In Tripoli celebrations on the anniversary of Gadhafi's death started only late at night after what turned out to be unfounded news that Khamis Gadhafi had been killed in Bani Walid. Too many issues since the fall of the former regime are re-emerging in a country whose feuds have deeper historical roots than Gadhafi's 42-years of oppressive rule.