(Reuters) – An Islamist militia linked to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and kicked out of the city by locals is back openly manning checkpoints and building up support promising much-needed security.

Heavily bearded youths from Ansar al-Sharia control the western entrance into Libya’s second biggest metropolis, patrol a hospital and check cars and trucks passing through another checkpoint in the south.

Witnesses say the group’s members were at the scene of the September 11 attack that killed the U.S. ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans – though Ansar al-Sharia denied any involvement.

Days after the assault, outraged residents drove the group out of its bases in the city in a “Rescue Benghazi” protest.

The group’s highly visible return, five months on, underlines the complex security situation on the ground two years after the start of the revolt that ousted Muammar Gaddafi.

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