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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs