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Libyan militants pull out of Benghazi after fierce clashes

English.news.cn   2014-05-17 22:30:17            

BENGHAZI, May 17 (Xinhua) -- The militant group led by former Major General Khalifa Haftar withdrew from Libya's eastern city of Benghazi on Saturday after one-day fierce fighting, leaving at least 36 people dead and more than 140 injured.

Witnesses said the sounds of the guns and artilleries faded since Friday midnight. According to local media reports, Haftar's militia has gradually retreated from Benghazi.

Deputy Health Minister Abdullah Faitouri told Xinhua that at least 36 people died during the crossfire and more than 140 people were wounded.

Khalifa Haftar, a retired major general, led his self- proclaimed "national army" into Libya's second largest city Benghazi on Friday, shelling many Islamist militant bases, including Ansar Al-Sharia's and February 17 Brigade's compound. Local media said light and heavy arms were used during the clashes.

Haftar called his maneuver as "Operation Dignity" to purge the city from "terrorists", but the interim government defined it as a "coup" and asked him to have self-control and "resist any temptation to intrude."

Many Tripoli citizens took to the street protesting against the endless violence and called for building a strong army and police to safeguard the security.

Benghazi was the birthplace of the 2011 uprising against the country's former leader Muammar Gaddafi. The city has witnessed a drastic escalation of violence and become a major extremist base in North Africa since the U.S. ambassador to Libya was killed in 2012.

Libya's interim government has failed to confiscate the weapons and ammos spread all over the country, leaving a major threat to the public security.

Editor: yan
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