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Renegade Libyan General Survives Assassination Attempt

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Irregular forces loyal to former army general Khalifa Haftar stand with armed vehicles during clashes with Islamist militants, Benghazi June 2, 2014.

Irregular forces loyal to former army general Khalifa Haftar stand with armed vehicles during clashes with Islamist militants, Benghazi June 2, 2014.

Rogue Libyan General Khalifa Haftar survived an assassination attempt at his residence in the eastern city of Benghazi, where he has been leading an offensive against Islamist militants.

Military officials say a suicide bomber drove a vehicle packed with explosives to the Haftar compound gate Wednesday. Three soldiers were killed and several others were wounded, including the Libyan air force chief of staff Saqi al-Jerushi.

Haftar was unhurt in the explosion. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The 71-year-old general, a former top military commander in the Gadhafi-era, has embarked on a weeks-long campaign against Islamist militias, whom he says Libya’s weak federal government has failed to curtail.

Haftar's latest assault on Monday left 20 dead in Benghazi and dozens injured.

Prime minister targeted

Also Wednesday, unidentified gunmen fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the office of new Libyan Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq on Wednesday, one of his aides said.

The projectile hit the building's kitchen, located on the same floor as Maiteeq's office, the aide said, adding that the premier had not been there.

Libya has been plagued by political infighting, with government and parliament unable to control militias that have defied state authority since ousting Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

Maiteeq was elected by parliament last month in a chaotic vote that many lawmakers disputed.

Outgoing Premier Abdullah al-Thinni has refused to hand over power, saying he wanted to wait for a legal ruling on whether Maiteeq's election was legitimate.

In an attempt to reinforce his authority, Maiteeq took over the prime minister's office on Monday night, backed by a police escort.

Retired general's base attacked

Earlier, a suicide bomber drove a Land Cruiser packed with explosives to retired general Haftar's base, his spokesman, Mohamed el-Hejazi, said, adding Haftar had not been hurt. Military sources said two of Haftar's guards were killed.

Haftar has launched a campaign to remove Islamists from the North African country.

In other violence, the International Committee of the Red Cross says one of its aid workers, a Swiss citizen, was killed by unknown gunmen in the Libyan town of Sirte. No further details of the attack have been released.

Some material for this report provided by Reuters

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