Heavy fighting reported in Libya's Benghazi

Photo: Heavy fighting reported in Libya's Benghazi / Arab World

Heavy fighting has been going on in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, apparently between the armed group Ansar al-Shariah and irregular forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar, former army general, Al Jazeera reported.

Witnesses said on Monday that gunfire which began the day before could be heard across the city, particularly coming from a special forces army base in a western suburb of Benghazi.

Haftar is campaigningto rid Libya of fighters that he says the weak central government has failed to control.

Suleiman El Dressi, a Benghazi resident in the area of the clashes, told Al Jazeera that two people had been killed as a result of explosions there.

"Residents are at home and they are very scared, waiting for the clashes to be over," he said.

"Central government cannot control anything happening here, in the east [of the country], they are useless."

On Sunday, a Libyan fighter jet under Hafter's command has attacked an Ansar al-Shariah base in Benghazi but did not hit the target, witnesses and a senior Libyan official told agencies.

The Associated Press news agency cited a member of Ansar al-Shariah as saying no one was hurt in the bombing.

The aircraft attacked a historical building which houses a base belonging to the Ansar al-Sharia, Mohamed al-Hejazi, a spokesman for Haftar, told Reuters.

"Our forces attacked the crown prince's former building where Ansar al-Sharia is based," he said.

However, a Reuters reporter at the scene said there was no damage at the building that had been home to the crown prince when Libya was a kingdom before former leader Muammar al-Gaddafi's 1969 coup.

Ansar al-Shariah gained support following the death of Gaddafi in 2011. The group is thought to be behind the 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi that killed four people including the US ambassador.

Libya is in turmoil three years after the NATO-backed war that overthrown Gaddafi, with self-proclaimed Islamist, anti-Islamist, regional and political factions locked in conflict.

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