On Friday afternoon, the residents cheered hundreds of armored troop carriers and army trucks mounted with guns that drove through the old city near the Corniche, according to witnesses.
“We stand by the people,” Wanis Bukhmada, the commander of special forces in Benghazi, told the onlookers. “We won’t allow anyone to mess around with security anymore.”
About 500 people held a demonstration to welcome the army in the country’s second largest city, rocked by almost daily bombings and assassinations.
“We are with the army. There is no security without the army,” said political activist Hania al-Gumati, who was among the people who took to the streets to cheer the armed forces in the city, which was the birthplace of the 2011 revolution.
Libyans rose up against Muammar Gaddafi’s four-decade rule in February 2011 and deposed him in August 2011. He was slain on October 20 of the same year.
Since 2011, Benghazi has been the scene of numerous attacks and political assassinations amidst increasing power struggle among several militias who fought against Gaddafi during the uprising.
The former rebels refuse to lay down their arms, despite efforts by the central government to impose law and order.
Many countries have closed their consulates in Benghazi and some foreign airlines have stopped flying there.
Over the past few months, the capital Tripoli and its suburbs have been hit by violent clashes between rival militias.
On Friday, the Libyan government strongly condemned the Thursday night clashes between two rival militias in Tripoli that left two people dead and several others injured.
One Western diplomat said the “situation has become increasingly critical, and the British, French, Italian and US embassies issued a joint statement calling for Libyans to put aside their differences.”
The fighting erupted on Thursday after militia chief Nuri Friwan died from injuries he sustained during a Tuesday attack on a checkpoint controlled by former rebels from Soug al-Jomaa, an eastern Tripoli district.
To avenge his death, the militiamen from the city of Misrata travelled to the Soug al-Jomaa district of the capital and battled with the men with anti-aircraft guns and grenades across Tripoli.
In retaliation, the Soug al-Jomaa militiamen fired rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) at the attackers.
Meanwhile, a blockade by armed groups on key Libyan oilfields and terminals in the east has paralyzed the country’s oil industry, choking output to a tenth of normal levels.
Guards working with the oil industry have been on strike since July and imposed a blockade on oilfields and terminals. Many armed militants and defected soldiers have also joined the guards in their campaign against the government.
The Libyan government is importing fuel to keep power stations running and queues are growing at petrol stations across the country.
In an interview with Press TV last month, political commentator Johnny Miller said that Libya is on the verge of becoming a failed state.
Miller, who is a freelance journalist based in London, made the remarks on October 11, a day after armed militants abducted Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan from a hotel in Tripoli, but freed him hours later.
Libya “really is close to being a failed state. I mean you have the situation where the government is very, very weak. You have the streets ruled by militias, affiliated with the government, but also acting unilaterally by themselves,” he said.
This article was originally published here.