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

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs