At least 14 dead in clashes between army and Islamists in Libya’s Benghazi


Heavy clashes in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi have left at least 14 people dead and 32 wounded, medical officials said on Saturday.

Five years on from the uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi, Libya is plagued by instability, and Islamist militants have taken advantage of a security vacuum to expand their presence.

A spokesman for the military forces loyal to Libya’s eastern government, Wanis Boukhamada, said fighting was mostly in the neighbourhood of Boatni. The army has been battling Islamist groups in the city for months.

Two governments, one based in Tripoli and the other in the east, each backed by complex alliances of armed factions, are vying to for control of the country.

On Friday, U.S. warplanes carried out an airstrike on a suspected militant camp in Sabratha in western Libya. At least 50 people were killed including two Serbian embassy staff abducted in Libya in November.

Neighbouring Tunisia’s Interior Ministry said on Saturday that five militants had been arrested in the southern city of Ben Guerdan who had trained in Sabratha and had planned to carry out attacks in Tunisia.

U.S. officials said on Friday that one of those targeted in the attack was the Tunisian Noureddine Chouchane, blamed for two attacks targeting foreign tourists in Tunisia last year in which dozens were killed.

More than 3,000 Tunisians have left their country to fight with Islamist groups in Syria and Iraq, but increasingly Tunisian officials say they see fighters returning to fight with Islamic State in Libya.