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Officials: Islamist Forces Overrun Benghazi Army Base After Battle

Fighters from the Islamist Misarata brigade fire toward Tripoli airport in an attempt to wrest control from a powerful rival militia, in Tripoli, Libya, July 26, 2014.

Islamist fighters and militants overran a major Libyan army base in the eastern city of Benghazi on Tuesday after a fierce battle involving rockets and warplanes in which at least 30 people were killed.

Special forces troops had to abandon their main camp in
southeast Benghazi after coming under sustained attack from a coalition of Islamist fighters and militias, military officials and residents said.

"We have withdrawn from the army base after heavy shelling,'' Saiqa Special Forces official Fadel al-Hassi told Reuters.

A special forces spokesman confirmed Islamist fighters had
taken over the base.

At least 30 people were killed overnight and Tuesday morning in Benghazi during heavy clashes between government special forces and Islamist fighters, medical sources said.

Fierce fighting in Benghazi, Libya's second-largest city, and battles between rival militias in the capital, Tripoli, have pushed Libya deeper into chaos, in two weeks of the worst violence since the 2011 civil war ousted Moammar Gadhafi.

“We have received 30 corpses so far,” a medical source told Reuters at Benghazi's main hospital.

A Libyan fighter jet has crashed in Benghazi during fighting between Islamists and Libyan special forces.

It was not immediately clear Tuesday if the plane malfunctioned or was hit by gunfire. A witness says the pilot ejected