Africa

Libyan gunmen storm Benghazi security HQ

  • 2 May 2014
  • From the section Africa
Libyan security forces are seen advancing during clashes with anti-government forces following an attack on a Benghazi police station, early on 2 May 2014
The fighting spread to several districts as government special forces intervened

Gunmen in the Libyan city of Benghazi have raided a security headquarters, sparking clashes in which at least nine people died, officials said.

The raid took place in the early hours and at least 15 others were wounded in fighting that went on for more than an hour afterwards.

Benghazi has been plagued by violence since the 2011 uprising.

The Libyan government blamed the attack on radical Islamists Ansar al-Sharia "and other criminal groups".

It said the fighting resulted in "nine martyrs and the killing, injury and arrest of some attackers".

"The Libyan government strongly denounces attacks by armed groups with ideologies contradicting the goals of building new Libya," a statement said.

The dead were six army commandos and three police officers, a military spokesman added. It is not known how many attackers were killed.

Helicopters and fighter planes were flying over Benghazi in the afternoon and witnesses said occasional gunfire and smaller explosions could still be heard.

Armed men also attacked the apartment of Benghazi's security chief, Col Ramadan al-Wahishi, but he was not hurt, a security official told Reuters.

The latest violence comes three days after a car bomb exploded at the gates of a military barracks near the airport, killing two soldiers.

Libya has been struggling to control and disarm the numerous armed groups and militias that took part in the 2011 civil war that ended Muammar Gaddafi's 42-year rule.

Benghazi was the cradle of the uprising but has since been a focal point for attacks on public institutions and officials.

It is the largest city in eastern Libya, where some groups and Islamist militias want more autonomy and a greater share of the region's oil wealth.

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