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Warplane bombs port in Libya's Benghazi

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A war plane attacked a port in Benghazi on Wednesday in a strike claimed by forces loyal to former general Khalifa Haftar, bringing their battle against Misrata fighters to the heart of the eastern Libyan city.

A Reuters reporter near the port, which is not an oil installation, saw a warplane open fire several times, although it was unclear whether any harbour facilities were hit.

The port is the main gateway for wheat and fuel imports into eastern Libya, a country struggling with anarchy three years after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi.

Saqer al-Jouroushi, head of Haftar’s air defence unit, has said an umbrella group of fighters, Majlis al-Shura, was using the port to bring in supplies and weapons.

“We warned the port manager that we will not allow ships to dock to supply Majlis al-Shura with weapons,” said Jouroushi, whose unit controls several planes from Libya’s air force.

He said the plane had deliberately missed the quay and had been issuing a final warning, but added that it would hit next time if another ship tried to offload weapons. Clashes in Benghazi have so far been mainly limited to the suburbs.

“We are in a state of war and Ansar al-Sharia and its allies are using the port to ship in arms against out troops,” he said, referring to a group blamed by Washington for an attack on the U.S. consulatein the city in 2012, during which the U.S. ambassador to Libya was killed.

“Unidentified” planes

Meanwhile, “unidentified” planes launched airstrikes on sites belonging to the “Libya Shield” militia in Libyan capital Tripoli on Tuesday.

The raids took place in the al-Azizya district in southern Tripoli, according to Anadolu Agency reporter.

Last month, militia leaders accused Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) of launching airstrikes against their camps in Tripoli. Both countries, however, denied any involvement in the attacks.

“Libya Shield,” widely seen as a pro-Islamist militia, recently launched a campaign – dubbed “Dawn of Libya” – with the stated aim of retaking government buildings and palaces of the ousted Muammar Gaddafi regime from militiamen who had occupied the sites for the past three years.

Libya has been dogged by political instability since the 2011 ouster and death of longstanding ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

Ever since, rival militias have locked horns, bringing violence to Libya’s main cities, including capital Tripoli and the eastern city of Benghazi – while the Libyan government has appeared absent from the scene.

The sharp divisions have yielded two rival seats of government in the country, each of which has its own institutions.

Two assemblies currently vie for legislative authority: the newly-elected House of Representatives, which convenes in the eastern city of Tobruk; and the General National Congress, which – even though its mandate ended in August – continues to convene in capital Tripoli.

The two parliaments support two different governments respectively headquartered in the two cities.

World Bulletin

This article was originally published here.

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