At least 12 dead in clashes between army and Islamists in Libya's Benghazi

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 20, 2016 2:04 PM

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - Heavy clashes in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi have left at least 12 people dead and 17 wounded, a hospital official 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 there.

A spokesman for the military forces loyal to Libya's eastern government, Wanis Boukhamada, said fighting was mostly in the neighborhood 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 western Libya. At least 50 people were killed including two Serbian embassy staff abducted in Libya in November.

(Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli; Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)