By Libya Herald staff.
Benghazi, 28 November 2013:
Three members of the Mushat Al-Awal, the 1st Marines Battalion, have been killed and a further seven injured in clashes just outside Marj, some 80 kilometres northeast of Benghazi this afternoon.
A source close to the Saiqa Special Forces told the Libya Herald that there were no indications of any injuries or deaths among the attackers, whom he described as “an armed criminal group.” However, it is reported elsewhere that three of the attackers were also killed.
The dead were taken to Benghazi’s Al-Jalaa Hospital, the source stated.
In a television statement, the Commander of the army’s Saiqa Brigade, Wanis Bukhamada, said that the attackers were members of Ansar Al-Sharia.
The fighting is said to happened after four people were arrested at a checkpoint by local forces after they were found to be carrying weapons and a large sum of money..
The marines were then sent to pick them up. It was when they were taking the four to Benghazi that they ran into an ambush. It is reported that, despite the heavy fighting, the attackers were unable to free the four who were being driven in the last of a group of vehicles. It reversed at speed and managed escape.
The four remain in detention.
The area was closed off and military helicopters from Benina airbase dispatched to patrol the area. There are unconfirmed reports that they fired at targets.
Military commanders have meanwhile asked people not to post pictures on Facebook that might be of help to Ansar.
Saiqa has also asked the media not to state where the injured were being treated for security purposes.
In his television statement, Bukhamada warned that Benghazi was heading for disaster if Congress and the government did not pay attention to what was happening in the city and take action.
“Benghazi is now in a bad position,” he said, stating that there was a plot against Libya which, if not dealt with, would result in major conflict and bloodshed.