Benghazi: Renewed clashes in Libya’s second largest city of Benghazi have killed at least 36 people and injured 71 others, military sources said Friday.
A spokesman for the Libyan army’s Special Force said that “a total of 36 people have been killed due to a double suicide attack and the clashes with Islamist militants, who were advancing towards the Benina airport”, Xinhua reported.
The spokesman said the death toll quickly rose after many of the injured died of their wounds, according to Al-Marj General Hospital.
Since Thursday, renewed clashes have erupted around Benghazi’s Benina Airport between Islamist militants and pro-secular militias who are loyal to renegade general Khalifa Haftar, who launched “Operation Dignity” last May against Islamist militants in what he described as an anti-terror campaign.
Media reported that the Islamist militants, including those with Ansar al-Sharia, Shura Council and Libya Shield, were trying to seize the airport before the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.
The crucial air hub was considered as Haftar’s last stronghold to house heavy weaponry and ammunition. Local residents also saw Haftar’s helicopters and warplanes taking off from the airport on sorties to carry out attacks on Islamist militant bases Thursday.
Benghazi, the birthplace of the 2011 protests that toppled Libya’s former leader Muammar Gaddafi, has witnessed a drastic escalation of violence since then. The city is now plagued by assassinations, kidnappings and deadly clashes between different armed groups