Libya warplanes raid Islamists in Benghazi

Photo: Libya warplanes raid Islamists in Benghazi / Arab World

Led by renegade General Khalifa Haftar, the Libyan warplanes raided Islamist extremists-held pockets in the eastern city of Benghazi, an army spokesman told Al Arabiya News Channel Friday.

The army targeted Sidi Faraj and al-Qawarsheh in Benghaz and destroyed an ammunition warehouse belonging to the militants in the northeastern port city of Derna, spokesman Mohammed al-Hijazi said.

The raid comes as Libya's outgoing premier Abdullah al-Thinni travelled on Thursday to Benghazi, hit by heavy fighting between irregular forces and Islamists for the last three weeks.

Public life in the port city, a base for oil firms, has largely come to a standstill since Haftar declared war on the Islamist militias, saying the government had failed to tackle them, Reuters reported.

Tripoli has denounced Haftar as trying to stage a coup.

More than 100 people have been killed in almost daily clashes, sometimes involving helicopters or warplanes and hitting residential districts.

Universities have been mostly closed and many residents have been hiding indoors.

With a no-fly zone in place, Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni and several ministers had to fly to Abraq airport 200 km east of Benghazi and travel from there by car.

"We came to Benghazi to support the city's residents, Special Forces and security forces," Thinni told Reuters during the visit. "We know what the special forces need in terms of weapons and ammunition."

He said wounded people would be sent abroad for treatment. Local hospitals have asked for blood donations because of the large number of casualties.

Libya is threatened with chaos, as government and parliament are unable to control militias, armed tribesmen and Islamists who helped overthrow Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 but now defy state authority.

The country currently has two prime ministers. Last month parliament voted into office Ahmed Maiteeq in an election disputed by some lawmakers and officials. Thinni has refused to hand over power until courts review the election process.

Meanwhile, Libya's intelligence chief resigned on Thursday amid an intensifying power struggle between the Islamist-dominated parliament and a rival, interim government, the Associated Press reported.

Spy chief Salem al-Hassi submitted his resignation to parliament, according to lawmaker Mohammed al-Arisha, who did not elaborate.

Al-Wasat news portal said al-Hassi resigned because he was frustrated with parliament's insistence on appointing a new prime minister, a move that added to the country's crisis. Al-Hassi could not be reached to confirm the report.

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