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TRIPOLI May 16 Libyan irregular forces backed
by helicopters and led by a retired army general clashed with
Islamist militias in the eastern city of Benghazi, killing at
least two people, security and medical sources said on Friday.
Amid a broad decay of national law and order since the 2011
uprising that ousted Muammar Gaddafi, Islamist militants have
been blamed for a string of assassinations and bombings against
the military in Benghazi, repeatedly fighting army special
forces. But they have dug in at bases on the city outskirts.
Fighters led by retired General Khalifa Haftar had shelled
bases belonging to Ansar al-Sharia and another Islamist militant
group in Benghazi, said Mohamed Al-Hejazi, who said he was a
spokesman for his self-declared Libyan National Army.
The situation was unclear, but witnesses said a regular army
helicopter had been used in some of the assaults on the Islamist
bases. Haftar was a leading figure in the anti-Gaddafi revolt.
With its own national army still in training, Libya's weak
central government cannot control brigades of ex-rebels and
militants who once fought Gaddafi but have since refused to
disarm and often challenge the state. The North African nation's
vital oil export industry has suffered badly in the disorder.
(Reporting by Feras Bosalum and Ahmed Elumami; writing by
Patrick Markey; editing by Mark Heinrich)