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Canadian killed fighting Gadhafi forces, friends say

Rebel fighters take shelter as an intense gunbattle erupted outside the Corinthia hotel, where many foreign journalists are staying, in Tripoli, LIbya, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011.

AP/Sergey Ponomarev/AP/Sergey Ponomarev

A Canadian-born man was killed this week fighting Moammar Gadhafi's forces in Libya, friends say.

Nader Benrewin, 24, was shot during an offensive on Col. Gadhafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound Tuesday, said Idris Ben-Tahir, who described himself as a mentor to Mr. Benrewin.

According to Mr. Ben-Tahir, 72, Mr. Benrewin was born in Edmonton, where his father was in graduate school at the University of Alberta. Mr. Benrewin then moved to Scotland with his family, attended university in Tripoli and, in 2008, returned to Canada with the intention of pursuing a master's degree in computer science at the University of Ottawa.

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He didn't end up studying at the university, though, and instead found a job. For the next three years, he worked in the information technology field in Ottawa, his mentor said.

Haitham Alabadleh, 35, a friend, said Mr. Benrewin believed Col. Gadhafi's regime was a "disaster" and that it was "destroying the country." He left Canada in March, Mr. Alabadleh said, to "help remove Gadhafi from power."

Mr. Ben-Tahir said he heard from Mr. Benrewin upon his arrival in Benghazi, Libya, and was told he was there for "humanitarian reasons."

Mr. Alabadleh described his friend as honest, humble, down-to-earth and generous. Mr. Ben-Tahir portrayed his protégé similarly and said Mr. Benrewin was well-educated, well-behaved, gentle and respectful. Mr. Benrewin had family living in Tripoli, and his father was a professor there, he added.

Aliya Mawani, a spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, said that while her office was aware of reports that a Canadian citizen had been killed in Libya, she could not offer any confirmation.

"While our embassy in Tripoli has suspended operations," she added in an e-mail, "consular officials in Ottawa and at our mission in Tunis stand ready to provide consular assistance."

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