Libyan people destroy a vehicle of the Salafi militia Ansar Al Sharia in Benghazi (Xinhua/Mohammed El Shaiky)
TRIPOLI, (Xinhua): At least nine people were killed and 51 others wounded in the heavy clashes that erupted on Monday in the Libyan eastern city of Benghazi between the Libyan army and the Salafi militia Ansar Al Sharia, according to the latest toll of the Libyan Ministry of Health.
Gunmen reportedly attacked a checkpoint of Libyan army special forces stationed near the headquarter of Ansar al-Sharia in Ras Abayda area.
The clashes, which continued for hours, extended to Al-Berka and Al-Salmani neighborhoods in Benghazi. The fighting was at its most intense at 6 a.m. this morning according to a military commander.
Local media reported that a number of Ansar Al Sharia militiamen fled the city as their headquarters was totally burnt following the bloody clashes.
Six members of the Saiqa Brigade were seized by Ansar Al-Sharia, beaten and then sent back to their unit, according to the local media.
Saiqa Brigade is a unit of the Libyan special forces working under the Joint Security Operation Room in Benghazi, where tens of local militias are mixed up with national security forces.
On November 11, Libyan prime minister Ali Zeidan went to Benghazi to discuss the new security plan in the eastern region of Cyrenaica, but he was forced to leave as a number of protesters shouted at him blaming him for the lack of security in the city for months which ended up with drastic escalation of violence.
On 15 November, Tripoli witnessed bloody incidents, when hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets in the capital to protest against the armed militias in the city and the rebels brigade opened fire on the mob, killing 43 people and injuring more the 460.
Zeidan held a meeting on Sunday in London with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and British Foreign Secretary William Hague. The top American and British diplomats reaffirmed their support to Libya in its harsh transitional stage towards the establishment of the democratic institutions.