By Libya Herald reporter.
Benghazi, 28 April 2017:
In a city that has seen much destruction in the past three years, the deliberate demolition yesterday of Benghazi’s landmark Safina building, on Jamal Abdul Nasser Street in the centre of the city, has caused particular sadness and anger among locals.
“I’ve lost everything”, lamented resident who had to flee his apartment in the iconic building two years ago because of the dangers in the area. “I thought I’d be leaving for just a week or two, so I left everything there – books, furniture, clothes. It’s all gone.”
“I’m very sad and angry,” said Abdullah from Leithi district. “We grew up with this building downtown. Now it’s vanished forever.” Similar views came from Ashraf, living further along in Jamal Street. “It’s very sad. It was one of Benghazi’s best-known buildings”.
According to locals, the building was blown up by the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shoura Council (BRSC) militants in order to give them a clear line of fire from Suq Al-Hout which lies behind the now vanished edifice. The LNA also blames the militants. According to a Saiqa Special Forces spokesman, the building was deliberated targeted and destroyed.
Possibly aware of the resentment in Benghazi at its loss, supporters of the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shoura Council (BRSC) are now claiming that the ship-shaped apartment building (“safina” means ship in Arabic), erected in the 1960s, was bombed by LNA aircraft. They do not say, however, why the LNA would want to do so.
Over the past couple of years, the Safina building had suffered as a result of the conflict, becoming pockmarked by bullet fire and the occasional shell but until now there had been no attempt to erase it altogether.
No everyone is upset at its loss, though. “It’s just a building,” said another Jamal Street resident. “We’ve lost it but what about the soldiers we lose in the field? You cannot compare losing it to the loss of our soldiers fighting the terrorists.”
The destruction of the building came – possibly in response – as Saiqa Special Forces announced a new offensive against the militants in Suq Al-Hout and Sabri. LNA air strikes and shelling of the two areas have intensified.
On Wednesday, the militants destroyed a bridge crossing the canal into Sabri district from Sidi Younis in what appears to be another strategic demolition – in this case to prevent access into their eastern Benghazi stronghold.
It was the third bridge attack by the militants this month.