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Fierce clashes in Libya's Benghazi to purge Islamists

Published on May 16, 2014 6:04 PM

BENGHAZI (AFP) - Fierce clashes erupted in Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi Friday between Islamists and forces led by a retired general seeking to purge it of “terrorists", an AFP journalist and witnesses said.  

The witnesses said a group led by Khalifa Haftar, a former rebel chief in the 2011 uprising that toppled Moamer Kadhafi, was backed by warplanes that pounded a barracks occupied by the Islamist “February 17 Brigade” militia.  Militiamen responded by opening up with anti-aircraft fire.  

The two groups also clashed in the Sidi Fradj area of south Benghazi, the AFP journalist said.  

Haftar’s group calls itself the “National Army” and a spokesman for the force, Mohammed Al-Hijazi, told a local broadcaster it has launched “a large-scale operation to flush terrorist groups out of Benghazi”.  

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