Army, residents battle Islamist militants in Benghazi

2014-10-15 17:53

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Benghazi - Libyan army troops and armed local residents clashed with Islamist fighters in the eastern port of Benghazi on Wednesday, one day after a renegade former general who backs the government forces vowed to retake the city from the militants.

Libya's second largest city is caught up in a chaotic struggle for control between an alliance of Islamist militia groups and the army, which is backed by forces loyal to former general Khalifa Haftar.

Gunfire could be heard in several Benghazi districts from early morning, residents said. Hospital officials were not immediately available to give details of any casualties.

Fighters from one Islamist group, Ansar al-Sharia, attacked an army camp, one of the last bases still controlled by government forces since militants drove army special force units out of Benghazi months ago.

Later war planes, apparently belonging to forces allied to Haftar, could be heard bombing suspected Islamist positions, residents said. On Tuesday, Haftar had promised to "liberate" Benghazi.

Three years after the fall of veteran strongman ruler Muammar Gaddafi, the plight of Benghazi illustrates the central government's inability to control rival armed factions who once fought Gaddafi and now battle over the post-war spoils.

Libya's neighbours and Western powers fear the OPEC member is heading for full-blown civil war as the weak government is unable to challenge brigades of heavily armed former rebels who now defy the state's authority.

The United Nations has started negotiations to bring an end to the fighting among the various factions, but some hardliners have so far refused the idea of any talks.

Local activists

Among the rival forces in Benghazi are Haftar, a former Gaddafi ally, and Ansar al Sharia, the Islamist group Washington blames for the 2012 attack on its consulate in Benghazi, in which the US ambassador died.

Local Benghazi activists also called on Wednesday for street protests against the Islamist militias, including Ansar al-Sharia, which control parts of the city.

In some parts of Benghazi, armed young people were fighting Islamist forces, who have set up checkpoints in the city and operate at will in those areas.

Haftar declared war on Islamists in May but has had little success with his military campaign as the army has lost control of several camps and is facing an assault on Benghazi airport, the last bastion of government presence in the city.

The government's grip on power across Libya has been sharply eroded by the seizure of the capital Tripoli by an armed group allied to the western city of Misrata, which has set up an alternative government and reinstated the former parliament, known as the General National Congress.

The internationally recognised government and the newly elected House of Representatives have moved to the city of Tobruk near the eastern border with Egypt.

The Misrata forces and the Islamist militants have dismissed Haftar as a warlord allied to the old Gaddafi regime. He had been close to Gaddafi until they fell out in the 1980s and Haftar fled into exile in the United States.

Read more on:    muammar gaddafi  |  libya  |  north africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


6 myths about male cancer

It is important to be aware of the most prevalent cancer diseases amongst men in our country.


You won't want to miss...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
5 top leg exercises for men
10 best dressed men of 2017
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.