Violent clashes claim 18 lives in Libya’s Benghazi

Violent clashes claim 18 lives in Libya’s Benghazi

Fri Oct 17, 2014 9:7PM GMT

At least 18 people have lost their lives in fierce street battles in Libya’s northeastern city of Benghazi.

The victims were killed on Friday, the third consecutive day of fighting between local militias on one side and the Libyan army and forces loyal to former General Khalifa Haftar on the other side.

Most of the fatalities were soldiers and civilians fighting along with the army in the Benghazi district of al-Majouri.

Forces loyal to Hafter attacked Benghazi on Wednesday in an attempt to purge it from the militants.

The Libyan army has endorsed Haftar, while Prime Minister Omar al-Hassi — who was appointed in August by militias that took control of the capital Tripoli — has supported the Benghazi militiamen.

Medics say at least 100 people have died in clashes between rival groups across Libya over the past week.

Benghazi has been a war zone since May, when Haftar joined forces with the army and declared war on the militia groups.

Libya plunged into chaos following the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The ouster of Gaddafi gave rise to a patchwork of heavily-armed militias and deep political divisions.

The country has been witnessing numerous clashes between government forces and rival militia groups that refuse to lay down arms. The groups are now turning their guns on each other in an attempt to dominate politics and the country’s vast oil resources.

Libya’s government and elected parliament moved to Tobruk after an armed group from Misrata seized the capital and most government institutions in August.

The new Tripoli rulers have set up a rival parliament and government not recognized by the international community.

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