Libya Is­lamic mili­tias de­clare con­trol of Beng­hazi

The Covington News - - THE WIRE -

BENG­HAZI, Libya (AP) — Is­lamic hard-line mili­tias, in­clud­ing the group ac­cused by the United States in a 2012 at­tack that killed the am­bas­sador and three other Amer­i­cans, claimed con­trol of Libya's sec­ond largest city, Beng­hazi, af­ter over­run­ning army bar­racks and seiz­ing heavy weapons.

The sweep in the eastern city is part of a new back­lash by hard-lin­ers against their ri­vals ahead of the sit­ting of a new par­lia­ment. In the cap­i­tal Tripoli, es­ca­lat­ing bat­tles Thurs­day be­tween mili­tias prompted mul­ti­ple for­eign gov­ern­ments to scram­ble to get out their cit­i­zens as thou­sands of Libyans fled across the border into Tu­nisia.

The weeks-long surge of vi­o­lence re­newed fears that Libya, which has been in chaos since the 2011 civil war that ousted long­time dic­ta­tor Moam­mar Gad­hafi, is plung­ing deeper into civil strife.

With a crip­pled cen­tral govern­ment and weak army and po­lice, the coun­try's nu­mer­ous ri­val mili­tias have held sway in Libya for the past three years. Though they bat­tled each other fre­quently, a bal­ance of fear among them pre­vented any from go­ing too far and forced them to di­vide ar­eas of power. But now, there mili­tias led by Is­lamist and ex­trem­ist com­man­ders ap­pear to be try­ing to gain a more de­ci­sive up­per hand.

The Health Min­istry said in a state­ment Thurs­day that the death toll in Tripoli since the vi­o­lence in­ten­si­fied in the past month reached 214, with more than 981 peo­ple wounded.

Mili­tias al­lied to Is­lamist politi­cians have been fight­ing for weeks to wrest con­trol of Tripoli's air­port from ri­val mili­tias, de­stroy­ing much of the air­port in the process. On Thurs­day, wit­nesses said that ran­dom rocket fire hit houses and ve­hi­cles in western Tripoli, send­ing res­i­dents flee­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.