Thursday 14 December 2017

Two dead and at least 20 wounded as jeep explodes in Benghazi

* Soldiers shot on car as it sped towards army base
* Benghazi, Libya's second biggest city, focus of civil conflict

Libyan soldiers run to take cover during clashes with Islamic extremist militias in Benghazi (AP)
Libyan soldiers run to take cover during clashes with Islamic extremist militias in Benghazi (AP)

Ayman al-Warfalli

A jeep filled with explosives killed two people and wounded around 20 in Benghazi, Libya's second biggest city that is a front line in the country's bloody civil conflict, medics and military officials said.

Soldiers fired rifles and a rocket-propelled grenade at the Toyota as it sped towards a military base in what an army commander said was a suicide bombing. The vehicle exploded, killing a man and a boy as well as the driver.

The explosion happened in the Lithi neighbourhood where pro-government forces have been fighting Islamist groups for months and where the two sides are still battling over control of the port district.

The fighting in the eastern city mirrors a wider struggle across the oil-producing North African state where two governments and parliaments, allied to rival armed groups, are vying for control four years after Muammar Gaddafi fell to an armed uprising.

Backed by forces led by General Khalifa Haftar, army special forces in mid-October launched an offensive against Islamists in Benghazi, expelling them from the airport area and from several camps the army had lost during the summer.

Army forces in eastern Libya are loyal to internationally recognised Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni, who was forced to leave the capital Tripoli in the west in August for the eastern city of Bayda when a group called Libya Dawn seized the capital.

The new rulers in Tripoli set up their own government and parliament, but these have not been recognised by the United Nations.


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