By Ayman Amzein and Farah Waleed.
Benghazi/Tripoli , 25 January 2015:
There has been deadly violence in parts of Benghazi today and this . . .[restrict]evening with Ansar Al-Sharia under intensive attack by the Libyan National Army. According to an LNA source, the militants have been firing rockets at random in response in both Leithi and neighbouring Buhdeima.
Reports vary on the number of dead and injured following what appears to have been an attempt by the LNA to flush out Ansar fighters in Leithi as well as the port area and nearby Sabri.
According to reports from Jalaa Hospital and the Benghazi Medical Centre, at least a dozen people were killed, of whom three were civilians including a seven-year-old girl and her mother. They died in Buhdeima. The rest were members of the LNA. However, ambulances are still taking casualties to Jalaa Hospital, which is close to Leithi, and the figure is expected to rise.
So far, some 40 people (38 soldiers and two civilians) have injured, some seriously, and taken to Jalaa.
The figures do not appear to include Ansar casualties. “They were everywhere in Benghazi today,” a local resident said, after the LNA operation started. “They were lost They were trying to hide but they didn’t know where to go.,” he said, suggesting that they were not from the city. Several had been killed, he added, with locals were keeping the LNA informed as to where they were.
Parts of the city are a war zone, with tanks moving moving around. “There is a tank outside my shop,” the resident said. Helicopter gunships were also being used, he added.
One source in the LNA says that Hafter ordered the attacks on Ansar to be intensified because, having gone to Saudi Arabia to pay his condolences at the death of King Abdullah, he was concerned that if it became known he was away, Ansar and its colleagues might try a new offensive. Mohamed Hejazi, the spokesman for Operation Dignity, has denied that Hafter left the country, however. [/restrict]