Benghazi clashes leave 75 dead in five days

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Monday, October 20, 2014

Nine people were killed Sunday in new violence in Benghazi where pro-government forces have launched an offensive against Islamist militias, raising the toll to 75 dead in five days, medics said.

In the latest violence a woman was killed in a bomb attack that targeted the vacant house of former general Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the offensive launched Wednesday, a military source said.

The woman was walking past the house with her daughter, who was wounded in the bombing, said the Benghazi Medical Centre, adding that it had also received the bodies of eight other people including two soldiers.

Fierce fighting raged in several parts of Libya's second city between pro-government forces led by Haftar and Islamist militias, an AFP correspondent and witnesses said.

Air raids carried out by units of the air force loyal to Haftar pounded Islamist positions.

Abdullah al-Thani, Libya's internationally-recognized prime minister, expressed Saturday his frustration over a lack of support from the international community, calling for foreign weapons and assistance in the fight against the Islamists.

"All military forces have been placed under army command to liberate Tripoli and Benghazi soon, inshallah (God willing)," Thani told AFP in a telephone interview from the eastern town of al-Baida.

On Saturday the United States joined Britain, France, Germany and Italy in calling for an "immediate" end to long-running violence there between government forces and militias.

Since a 2011 revolution that toppled Libya's longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi, interim authorities have failed to establish a regular army and had to rely on state-backed militias.

The European powers and the United States said they were "concerned" by the operations carried out by Haftar, although he has the backing of army units while civilians too have taken up arms.

"We consider that Libya's security challenges and the fight against terrorist organizations can only be sustainably addressed by regular armed forces under the control of a central authority which is accountable to a democratic and inclusive parliament," a joint statement said.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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