Seven killed in clashes in Libya’s Benghazi
Attack follows week of fighting between rival militias at Tripoli airport
Smoke rises near buildings after heavy fighting between rival militias broke out near the airport in Tripoli over the weekend. REUTERS/ Hani Amara
Islamist militants attacked an army base in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi yesterday, triggering fierce clashes involving helicopters and jets that killed at least seven people and wounded 40 others, residents and security sources said.
The violence followed a week of fighting between rival militias for Tripoli International Airport that has prompted the north Africa country to appeal for international help to stop Libya becoming a failed state.
Tripoli was calmer yesterday, but in Benghazi, militants linked to Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia attacked an army camp and were repelled by troops and forces loyal to renegade retired general Khalifa Haftar, who has been carrying out a self-declared war on Islamist fighters. “Ansar al-Sharia tried to take over one special forces camp, but the special forces and Hafter’s forces fought back, using helicopters and military aircraft in their attack,” one source said, asking not to be identified for security reasons.
Since the 2011 civil war that toppled autocrat Muammar Gadafy, Libya’s fragile government and new army have been unable to assert authority over rival brigades of former rebels fighting for political and economic influence.