Bu Zeid, 59, editor-in-chief of the privately owned weekly Brnieq, was shot dead in his car by armed men while distributing the paper in Benghazi, according to news reports. He was shot in the head, stomach, and hands, Reuters reported citing an unnamed medical source. The assailant fled in a waiting vehicle, according to reports citing eyewitnesses.
Bu Zeid was well-known for his criticism of Islamist militias in Benghazi, according to news reports and human rights groups. A day before he was killed, Bu Zeid appeared on TV and discussed a meeting he recently had with Gen. Khalifa Hifter, a prominent rebel leader and former Qaddafi officer, as well as the threat of civil war.
In early May 2014, Gen. Hifter launched an offensive with the assistance of allied militias to rout armed Islamist groups, declaring he did not recognize the country’s Islamist-led parliament, the General National Congress. The Islamist militias that were central to the overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011 have been blamed for a series of kidnappings and assassinations by human rights groups, some of which were carried against journalists, according to CPJ research.
Three days before he was killed, Bu Zeid told journalists that armed men near the city of Misrata confiscated the Thursday issue of Brnieq from a distribution vehicle. He said Islamist militias had accused him of supporting Gen. Hifter’s offensive against them. Bu Zeid also told Al-Quds al-Arabi, a daily Arabic-language newspaper, that he had been threatened with death if he did not leave Libya in 24 hours.