Libya unrest: Armed groups attack Benghazi military posts


A man shows an empty bullet shell that he found outside a police station that was attacked overnight on May 15, 2013 in the Libyan eastern city of Benghazi.


Abdullah Doma

Unidentified armed groups assaulted military posts in restive Benghazi on Saturday, a Libyan army commander said.

No deaths were reported in four separate overnight attacks on the three posts, where assailants used rocket-propelled grenades and bombs, commander Hamed Belkhair said.

Possibly in a related story, a soldier was injured early Saturday in a drive-by bomb attack at a Benghazi checkpoint, a security official told Agence France-Presse. 

"A bomb was thrown from a car at an army checkpoint at the Dubail crossroads in the centre of Benghazi," the anonymous official said, adding, "The attack was carried out at around 2 a.m." The attackers' identity is unknown, though these incidents are usually blamed on radical Islamists.

Since the fall dictator Muammar Ghadaffi, Libya's new government has struggled to control some of its territory, as many of the rebel brigades from the revolution compete for influence. 

"The national army is being subjected to these attacks because they are doing a great job of cleaning the city of criminals' shelters," Belkhair told Reuters.

On Wednesday, an innocent bystander was killed in Benghazi after a police station was set aflame in a possible attempt to free a prisoner. That same day, the US said it would transfer two planes and 200 Marines to bases in Italy, in case its diplomats are attacked again.  

"This is a reinforcement for the security of US personnel in Libya or for possible evacuations," Italy's Foreign Minister Emma Bonino told parliament.

The Libyan army had sent additional forces to Benghazi after car exploded and killed three people near a hospital on Monday.