BENGHAZI, Libya Aug 30 Heavy clashes broke out
between the forces of a renegade general and Islamist fighters
in Libya's eastern city of Benghazi on Saturday, killing at
least 10 people and showering the airport with rockets, medical
and military sources said.
Libya is being racked by factional violence as the armed
groups which helped topple Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 turn their
guns on each other in a struggle to dominate politics and the
country's vast oil resources.
In Benghazi, forces of retired general Khalifa Haftar have
been fighting Islamist brigades including Ansar al-Sharia,
blamed by Washington for an attack on the U.S. consulate in
September 2012 in which the U.S. ambassador was killed.
On Saturday, Islamist forces were trying to seize the Benina
area, home to a civilian and military airport under the control
of Haftar's forces. They have already overrun several army camps
Grad rockets hit the civilian airport, military sources and
residents said. At least 10 soldiers from Haftar's forces were
killed and 25 wounded, a hospital medic told Reuters.
Western powers worry Libya will become a failed state as a
weak central government cannot control the competing armed
groups in a country awash with arms.
Senior officials and the elected parliament have relocated
to the remote eastern city of Tobruk after effectively losing
control of the capital Tripoli, where an alliance of armed
groups rules after expelling a rival force.
The new forces controlling Tripoli, led by brigades from the
western city of Misrata, have helped install an alternative
parliament and prime minister.
In a televised speech, Omar al-Hasi, not recognized as prime
minister internationally, said his government wanted to lead
Libya out of crisis and seek national reconciliation.
"We reject extremism and terrorism," he said. "I am not with
a specific group, party, operation or city but stand for a
government for all Libyans."
Adding to the sense of chaos, the Tobruk-based government
issued a separate statement, calling on all militias to leave
(Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli, Ahmed Elumami and Feras
Bosalum; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Andrew Roche)