Fighting flares in Libya's Benghazi as Tripoli militia violence continues   2014-07-24 23:19:52            

TRIPOLI, July 24 (Xinhua) -- Clashes between militias were reignited in Libya's eastern city of Benghazi on Thursday as militants continued to fight over the international airport in the capital of Tripoli.

The official LANA agency quoted a medical source from Benghazi as saying that eight people, including one child, were killed and 45 others were injured during the fighting that broke out in several areas of the city.

Witnesses said the clashes were between Islamist fighters, some affiliated to Ansar al-Sharia, and pro-secular army special forces, causing severe damages to some civilian facilities.

Ansar al-Sharia was listed as a terrorist group by the United States and is suspected to have orchestrated the 2012 attack on the American consulate, which killed U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.

Some analysts worry that the recent Benghazi assault launched by the Islamist armed groups might be echoing the clashes in Tripoli, where the Islamist fighters from Misrata have been pounding the international airport since July 13.

The airport clashes have paralyzed air traffic from and to the capital city. The crucial air hub has witnessed several rounds of intense fighting between rival militants, severely damaging most of the aircraft at the airport along with the control tower. Medical sources said the fighting so far has killed at least 47 people.

Earlier in July, the central government made attempts to push both sides to accept a cease-fire agreement, but gunfire and explosions continued on the ground unabated. Some local media outlets have reported rising concerns that the ongoing clashes throughout major Libyan cities could easily devolve into a civil war.

The North African country has seen a drastic escalation of violence and political instability since the toppling of Libya's former leader Muammar Gaddafi. Libya's central government has failed to control the former rebels and militia, many of whom now operate with impunity.

Editor: yan
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