At least nine people were killed and 19 wounded, mostly civilians, in Benghazi after heavy clashes between Islamist fighters and regular forces trying to oust the militants from the eastern Libyan city, medical sources said.
The fighting late on Wednesday involving aircraft and troops followed a week of the fiercest clashes between militants, former rebel fighters and government forces in Benghazi and the capital Tripoli since the 2011 war against Muammar Gaddafi.
More than 50 people have died so far in the violence that has deepened fears post-war Libya is slipping into lawlessness, with its government unable to control heavily armed brigades of former rebel fighters battling for power.
Two main rival militias have exchanged fire with Grad rockets, shells and anti-aircraft cannons for control of Tripoli’s main airport, shutting down most international flights and prompting the United Nations to pull its staff out of Libya.
The fighting has also taken a toll on Libya’s fragile oil industry, with one main field, El-Feel, reducing production due to the clashes, and total output slipping around 20 percent to 450,000 barrels per day on Monday.