17 soldiers, 1 civilian, killed in southern Libya

Cairo - A Libyan army spokesperson says armed militants have shot and killed 17 soldiers and one civilian at a checkpoint.

Mohammed Hegazi told The Associated Press that the attack occurred early on Friday in the central district of Jufra. He blamed the attacks on "terrorists roaming the desert areas freely".

Widespread militia violence has plunged Libya into chaos less than four years after a Nato-backed uprising toppled and killed long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Islamic extremist militias are battling troops in the second largest city of Benghazi in the west. Other militias have taken over the eastern city of Darna and the capital Tripoli.

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