Battle erupts for port in Libya's Benghazi

Armed civilians gather in the street during clashes with Islamist militiamen in the al-Lithi area of Libya's eastern coastal city of Benghazi on November 2, 2014Pro-government forces launched an attack on districts held by Islamist militias around the port of eastern Libya’s restive city of Benghazi on Monday, witnesses and military sources said. A column of black smoke billowed above the districts of cental Benghazi as the two sides battled with heavy weapons, witnesses said, and an old naval vessel in the Mediterranean port was set ablaze, apparently by shellfire. The aim of the offensive, launched by forces loyal to retired general Khalifa Haftar backed by army units, was to “clear the zone of armed Islamist groups”, said Colonel Ahmed al-Mesmari, armed forces general staff spokesman. Earlier, the spokesman issued a call for residents to evacuate the Sabri district near the port, warning Islamist groups had “barricaded themselves among civilians” in the area.

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