Eight Killed As Suspected Islamist
Militants Attack Security HQ In Libya
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[May 02, 2014]
By Ayman al-Warfalli and Feras Bosalum
BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) — Eight people
were killed and up to 15 wounded when suspected Islamist militants tried
to storm the Libyan government security headquarters in Benghazi on
Friday, army officials and medics said.
The dead were soldiers and police officers, army officials said.
Huge explosions could be heard during a firefight in the early
morning that lasted more than an hour. Special forces later secured
the headquarters, near the city center.
The bodies of two soldiers, kidnapped by militants during the
attack, were found later bearing signs of torture, a medical source
Libya's central government is struggling to control armed groups,
militias and brigades of former rebels who helped oust longtime
leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and refuse to disarm.
Special forces have often clashed with Islamist militants in
Benghazi, Libya's second-largest city that dominates the volatile
eastern region, including from Ansar al-Sharia, listed as a
terrorist organization by the United States.
Armed men also attacked the apartment of Benghazi's security chief
Colonol Ramadan al-Wahishi. He was not hurt, a security official
Car bombings and assassinations of soldiers and police officers have
become common in Benghazi, where a suicide bomber detonated an
explosives-packed minibus outside a special forces camp on Tuesday,
killing two people and wounding two.
Most countries have closed their consulates in the city and some
foreign airlines have stopped flying there since the U.S. ambassador
and three other Americans were killed in an Islamist militant attack
in September 2012.
In December, a suicide bomber killed 13 outside an army camp on the
outskirts of Benghazi, in the first suicide attack since the 2011
NATO-backed civil war that toppled Gaddafi.
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Western diplomats worry the violence will spill over to the capital
Tripoli where the security situation has also worsened. Kidnappings
of foreign diplomats have been on the rise as well as nightly
shootouts near the airport road.
Western and Arab allies are training Libya's fledgling armed forces
but the military is still no match for the heavily armed former
rebels and militias who often use the threat of force to make
demands on the state.
(Reporting by Feras Bosalum and Ayman al-Warfalli; Writing by Ulf
Laessing; editing by Janet Lawrence)
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