BENGHAZI : Forces loyal to rogue Libyan general Khalifa Haftar clashed Sunday with Islamist militias in the eastern city of Benghazi, killing four people and wounding nine, witnesses and a medic said.
The clashes were among the fiercest since Khalifa began his offensive against radical Islamist groups in Benghazi, dubbed “Operation Dignity,” on May 16, when at least 76 people were killed.
The fighting on Sunday left at least four dead and nine wounded, according to the Al-Abyar hospital southwest of Benghazi, where Haftar’s forces are treated. The hospital sources did not say which side the casualties were from, and Islamist militias in Benghazi rarely give indications of their dead and wounded. The ex-general’s forces launched an offensive early Sunday in the Sidi Fraj area of Benghazi, a stronghold of Islamists, including Ansar al-Sharia, which Washington classifies as a “terrorist organisation”.
The sound of heavy weapons fire could be heard on the streets of the suburb, and families fled affected areas, witnesses said. Electricity was cut to a large part of the city, with state news agency LANA saying a rocket fire had hit a power station, and that technicians were trying to restore power supplies.
Since launching his offensive last month, Haftar has rallied support from the public and members of the security forces. But the authorities have labelled him an “outlaw” and accused him of trying to mount a coup. Near daily attacks in Benghazi, cradle of the 2011 revolt that ousted dictator Moamer Kadhafi, have killed dozens of members of the security forces. The attacks have been blamed on radical Islamist militias based in the city.