Benghazi Clashes Kill ‘At Least 36′

benghaziAt least 36 people have been killed in clashes between Libyan government troops and Islamist militants in the city of Benghazi, reports say. The attack came as the militants attacked troops in the city centre.

Intense fighting near Tripoli airport killed another 23 people, reports say. Militias controlling large parts of the country are responsible for Libya’s worst violence since the 2011 uprising that toppled Col Muammar Gaddafi, correspondents say.

The US and the UK have advised their nationals not to travel to Libya. Turkey has also withdrawn some 700 members of staff from Libya.

Earlier this week, the UN also announced it was withdrawing all its staff from Libya.

With no army, Libya’s central government has increasingly lost control over the country to rogue and powerful militias in the last two years, says the BBC’s Rana Jawad in Tripoli.

US ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi in September 2012.

Libyan government officials warned of the possibility of a break-up of the country if clashes over Tripoli airport continue.

Rival Libyan militias have been locked in battle at Libya’s main airport in the south of Tripoli since last week, forcing the airport to shut.

Members of the Islamist Libya Revolutionaries Operations Room (LROR) are trying to seize control of the airport, which has been in the hands of the Zintan militia since the overthrow of Col Gaddafi.

Egyptian news agency Mena said 23 Egyptian workers were killed on Saturday when a rocket hit their residence in Tripoli.

The correspondent in the capital says both militia groups are believed to be on the official payroll. The government has been unable to disarm the numerous armed groups that took part in the 2011 uprising and which have divided the country.

The eastern city of Benghazi has also been wracked by fighting between a rogue general, Khalifa Haftar, and Islamist groups, while many oil fields remain in the hands of separatist groups.

Dozens of government officials and high-profile military figures have been the target of assassination attempts in the city over the last two years. — BBC

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