BENGHAZI : Gunmen stormed police headquarters in Libya’s second city Benghazi before dawn on Friday sparking fighting in several districts that killed at least five soldiers, medical and military sources said.
Special forces to intervened to try to evict the gunmen triggering fighting elsewhere in the eastern city that also wounded 11 people. The gunmen were trying to seize a vehicle packed with weapons and ammunition that the police had taken from them, a security source said.
Blasts and gunfire rocked the Mediterranean city for two hours from 0100 GMT, witnesses said. Friday’s violence comes just days after a car bomb targeted a special forces barracks in Benghazi, killing two soldiers and wounding three. Benghazi was the cradle of the 2011 uprising that ended Moamer Kadhafi’s four-decade rule and has since been plagued by violence that has killed dozens of members of the security forces, judges and foreigners.
The government has been struggling to consolidate control in the vast and mostly desert country, which is effectively ruled by a patchwork of local militias and awash with heavy weapons looted from Kadhafi’s arsenals. The lawlessness has even extended to the capital. On Tuesday gunmen stormed the parliament building in Tripoli forcing lawmakers to postpone a vote for a new prime minister to replace Abdallah al-Thani who quit in April - after just five days in the job - saying he and his family had come under attack.
Thani had been selected to replace Ali Zeidan, who was ousted by parliament in March to punish him for failing to prevent a rebel oil shipment and put an end to the lawlessness. Foreign missions have also been hit, including the US consulate in Benghazi, which was stormed by jihadists in September 2012, resulting in the deaths of the ambassador and three other Americans.