It was the birthplace of Libya’s revolution.
And a year after protests first began in Benghazi, the people of the eastern city have taken to the streets to celebrate the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.
Friday marks the official annniversary of the uprising that led to the end of more than 40 years of autocratic rule.
In Tripoli, security forces are taking no chances amid fears of attacks by Gaddafi loyalists, spurred on by rallying calls from his son Saadi.
But armed militias who fought to oust the late leader are the biggest threat to stability. An Amnesty International report says they are trampling on human rights with impunity.
“The problem is that these militias are de facto above the law,” said Carsten Jugersen, co-author of the group’s Libya report. “They are not being held accountable for what they are doing and the authorities do not dare to do so. And of course there are fears that this could escalate and the situation in Libya could deteriorate much more.”
Amnesty International says it has evidence of widespread torture in militia-run detention centres, with at least 12 inmates dying from the abuse since September.
Interim authorities want to amalgamate militias into the police force and army, amid warnings that if they don’t comply, Libya could be dragged into a civil war.