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Benghazi Residents, Libya's Army Battle Islamist Militants

 / Updated  / Source: Reuters

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BENGHAZI, Libya - Libyan army troops and armed local residents clashed with Islamist fighters in the eastern port of Benghazi on Wednesday, one day after a renegade former general who backs the government forces vowed to retake the city from the militants. Libya's second-largest city is caught up in a chaotic struggle for control between an alliance of Islamist militia groups and the army, which is backed by forces loyal to former general Khalifa Haftar.

Gunfire could be heard in several Benghazi districts from early morning, residents said. Three years after the fall of strongman ruler Moammar Gadhafi, the plight of Benghazi illustrates the central government's inability to control rival armed factions who once fought Gadhafi and now battle over the post-war spoils. Libya's neighbours and Western powers fear the OPEC member is heading for full-blown civil war as the weak government is unable to challenge brigades of heavily armed former rebels who now defy the state's authority. The United Nations has started negotiations to bring an end to the fighting among the various factions, but some hardliners have so far refused the idea of any talks.

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- Reuters

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