By Noora Ibrahim, Adam Ali and Ayman Amzein.
Benghazi, 29 October 2014:
Heavy fighting in central Benghazi raged throughout the . . .[restrict]night and into this morning as pro-government forces pushed into the heart of the city.
Libyan National Army (LNA) vehicles with mounted antiaircraft guns have been positioned on the city’s main thoroughfare of Jamal Abdel Nasser Street, appearing to rally before moving further into Benghazi’s contested downtown area.
Fighting between army and Islamist forces from Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC) began last night in the Salmani and Kish districts. Civilians and armed vigilante groups from both sides have reportedly joined the fray.
The clashes in Salmani have centred around the Al-Jaraa roundabout, one of the largest in the city, and a long-held Ansar Al-Sharia checkpoint. One resident told the Libya Herald that he and his family had endured hours of heavy gunfire and shelling.
No casualties have yet been reported from the clashes and medical and Red Crescent officials could not be reached by phone, however, there are believed to have been a significant number.
Further fighting has continued elsewhere in the city. Several people are believed to have been killed when shells fell on a funeral gathering in the Majouri district. Photos circulated on social media show a funeral tent and the area surrounding it drenched in blood.
There have also been reports of casualties from fighting on Ashreen Street where local residents are said to be exchanging RPG fire in a related personal battle. One family identified as the Bushwagier family, supporters of the army, have attack a family of Ansar Al-Sharia supporters, the Rabia family, after accusing them of abducting a family member. Both have resorted to heavy mortar fire which is said to have hit surrounding buildings
Fighting has also continued in and around Garyounis near Benghazi University which was hit by missiles yesterday. The ongoing clashes predominantly involve 17 February Brigade and Brega Martyrs Brigade on the side of BRSC and the 204 Tank Brigade. Eyewitnesses have reported airstrikes by pro-government forces on the area.
Both the Libya Red Crescent and Saiqa Special forces have issued statements about the fighting, asking residents to remain indoors wherever possible as the city witnesses its fiercest clashes in two weeks.
The Red Crescent has asked the people of Benghazi to stay away from windows, try to stay in central rooms and stay downstairs.
Saiqa has told residents to protect their homes, remain inside and not to impede the work of the national army.