Libyan Rebels Say Their Military Chief Is Dead

Rumors suggest that Abdel Fattah Younis held secret talks with Qaddafi, his old boss

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UPDATE (4:40 p.m. EST): Al Jazeera is treating the fairly mysterious specifics of Younis's death with kid gloves and lots of quotation marks to refer to statements from the National Transition Council. They've published more details under the headline, "Libyan rebel military leader 'killed,'" adding "General Abdel Fatah Younes, the chief of staff of the rebel forces, has been killed in an 'ambush', says NTC head."

"Younis was reportedly on his way, according to Jalil, to discuss military matters with the council and was reportedly shot by assailants," reports the news service.

UPDATE (4:17 p.m. EST): Al Jazeera reports, "General Abdel Fatah Younis, Libya’s chief of staff of the rebel forces has been declared dead by the National Transition Council at a press conference." It's so far unclear whether Younis died in battle, in detention or ever even made it back to Benghazi.

The news service had reported more details about his recall and subsequent detention in Benghazi. Tony Birtley, their correspondent in Benghazi, reported before news of Younis's death:

[Younis] spent 40 years as one of Gaddafi's right hand men as minister of defence and in charge of the special forces. So when he came over five months ago to the opposition cause it was quite a coup. But some people have had their doubts about… his loyalties... Some of his men have come back from the front line demanding his release. This is an ugly situation in the making.

ORIGINAL POST: Libyan rebel leaders pulled their top officer Abdel Fattah Younis from the front lines on Thursday. "It was not immediately clear why Younes, Gaddafi's former security minister who defected to the rebel side in February, was being questioned. But rumours circulated that he was suspected of having had secret talks with Gaddafi's government," Reuters reported. A senior member of the rebel National Transitional Council told Reuters that Younis returned to Benghazi from the front lines "unhappy with the situation on the ground" but the exact details remain vague.

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