More heavy fighting in Libya’s Benghazi, death toll rises to 130

A view of the damaged home of a member of Ansar al-Sharia, after it was destroyed by armed groups loyal to former general Khalifa Haftar, in Benghazi October 26, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Stringer

(Reuters) — Heavy fighting flared on Sunday between Libya’s army and Islamist militias apparently trying retake one of their largest camps in the eastern city of Benghazi, military officials said.

At least 130 people have been killed in the past 10 days during street fighting in Libya’s second-largest city — part of a wider picture of chaos gripping the major oil producer three years after the downfall and death of Muammar Gaddafi.

The nascent army, backed by forces of a former general and armed youths, launched earlier this month an offensive against Islamists in Benghazi, expelling them from the airport area and the February 17 camp, one of their strongholds in the port city.

But fresh fighting between the army and Ansar al-Sharia — blamed by Washington on a 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate that killed the American ambassador — erupted at the university campus and other areas next to the camp. A fire broke out in the university’s main building, a security source said.

Army units also battled Islamists in other parts of the city, residents said. Families were seen packing up and fleeing, a familiar sight in Benghazi which has been a battlefield since former general Khalifa Haftar declared war on Islamists in May. He has allied himself with the army.

The struggle is part of a wider conflict in the north African state where former rebels use their guns to fight for power and a share of the country’s oil revenues…

Previous post explaining the power struggle here.

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