News / Middle East

Libyan Militiamen Battle Government Forces in Benghazi

A man walks at the headquarters of Islamist militant group Ansar al-Sharia after it was set on fire by protesters after clashes between members of the group and a Libyan army special forces unit in the Ras Obeida area in Benghazi, Nov. 25, 2013.
A man walks at the headquarters of Islamist militant group Ansar al-Sharia after it was set on fire by protesters after clashes between members of the group and a Libyan army special forces unit in the Ras Obeida area in Benghazi, Nov. 25, 2013.
Edward Yeranian
The Libyan government declared a state of emergency in the country's eastern port city of Benghazi Monday after heavy clashes between the Libyan army and members of an Islamist group believed to be behind last year's attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission. At least seven soldiers were reported killed and more than 39 people wounded.

Heavy artillery and rocket fire shook parts of Benghazi Monday as Islamist militiamen continued to battle an army brigade loyal to the government. Libyan government television showed civilian victims of the fighting at a Benghazi hospital being treated for gunshot and shrapnel wounds.

Fighting has been going on since late Sunday between government forces and fighters from Ansar al-Sharia, whose members stand accused by U.S. authorities of having participated in the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate that led to the deaths of four Americans including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stephens.

Militiamen attacked an army patrol near a mosque in the central Birqa district of the city. A number of government soldiers were killed in the attack.

Incoming Interior Minister Sabri Abdel Karim told a press conference in the capital, Tripoli, that the government is demanding militiamen leave Benghazi and that the Libyan Army and police hope to assume control of the city.

He said the fighting in Benghazi demonstrates the need to enforce a government decree requiring all armed militias to withdraw from the city and hand over control to the police and army.  He said the armed forces must be allowed to fulfill their legal role and impose order.

Members of Libya's National Assembly representing Benghazi met to discuss the fighting, urging militias to pull out of the city and other cities across the country. Deputy Parliament Speaker Ezzedine al-Awami urged the parties to use reason and behave responsibly.

He called on a government resolution to be enforced that mandates militias to withdraw from Libyan cities. He asked civic leaders to engage in mediation with the parties in order to restore order.

The fighting in Benghazi came just a day after an official visit by Libya's interim Prime Minister Ali Zeidan to London, where he met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and British Foreign Secretary William Hague. Zeidan said that Libya is trying to achieve democracy:

He said that the plan is to put an end to armed militias and is a move in the direction of democracy. He says it answers the demands of the Libyan people whose blood was spilled in the quest for democracy.

Abdel Hafiz Gogha, spokesman for Libya's former Transitional National Council, told state television that militiamen were “running amok” in Benghazi and that the interim government should have found a way to disarm them sooner.

Human rights activist Zahra Lanfy told state television that a plan is needed to “incorporate young fighters into the army and other government institutions.”

Along the outskirts of the capital Tripoli, an armed militia with reported ties to former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi seized control of a government arms depot, causing panic in several neighborhoods.

You May Like

Official: S. Sudan President, Rebel Leader to Meet in Tanzania

Talks part of effort to end conflict in country that has left more than 10,000 people dead, displaced more than 1.5 million others More

Dutch Deny Link to Mystery Submarine Off Sweden

Netherlands denies Russian claim that 'foreign vessel' photographed in waters off Sweden could be Dutch More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Lawi
X
William Ide
October 20, 2014 10:23 AM
China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Nigeria Agrees to Cease-Fire With Boko Haram

Islamist militant group Boko Haram and the Nigerian government have agreed to a cease-fire. The Nigerian government issued an order Friday, telling all military chiefs "to comply with the cease-fire agreement in all theaters of operations. Why now and the significance of the agreement are questions on some people’s minds. VOA's Mariama Diallo reports.
Video

Video Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

The offensive by Islamic State militants against the northern Syrian city of Kobani has caused hundreds of thousands of residents to flee to Turkey. They receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from the town of Suruc a few kilometers from the border.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.

All About America

AppleAndroid