#AceNewsServices – BENGHAZI – LIBYA – May 02 – (Reuters) – Nine Libyan soldiers were killed on Friday when Islamist fighters tried to storm the Benghazi city security headquarters in an attack authorities blamed on the militant group Ansar al-Sharia.
Libya’s weak central government is struggling to control armed groups, militias and brigades of former rebels who helped oust long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi in the 2011 civil war and now refuse to disarm.
The dead were soldiers of a special forces unit, the Tripoli government said, for the first time openly blaming Ansar al-Sharia, which is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States.
“Armed brigades, including those called Ansar al-Sharia and other criminal groups, attacked the security headquarters in Benghazi with light and heavy weapons ” a government statement said.
Special forces have often clashed with the heavily-armed militant group in Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city, but the government with its nascent army had been reluctant to name it publicly for fear of provoking tensions.
Huge explosions could be heard during a fire-fight in the early morning that lasted more than an hour. Special forces later secured the headquarters, near the city centre.
Helicopters and war planes were flying over Benghazi in the afternoon.
Occasional gunfire and smaller explosions could still be heard during the day. As many as 15 more troops were also injured in the attack.
The bodies of two soldiers, kidnapped by militants during the attack, were found later bearing signs of torture, a medical source said.
Reuters – Libya News