By Noora Ibrahim, Moutaz Ahmed and Aimen Amzein.
Benghazi, 28 May 2014:
Airstrikes have been carried out on sites in Benghazi this afternoon, . . .[restrict]with reports that bombs struck the base of February 17 Brigade in the city’s Hawari district and Ansar Al-Sharia forces in Gwarsha.
Spokesman for General Khalifa Hafter, Mohammed Al-Hijezi, confirmed to the Libya Herald that the Libyan National Army was carrying out the operation which was targeting February 17 Brigade and Ansar Al-Sharia forces at the Gwarsha Gate.
He said military operations in the city were ongoing and that he did not know when they would be concluded.
One Hawari resident said an aircraft had dived low in the sky and dropped two bombs on February 17 Brigade’s headquarters. He said the blasts shook his house and added that smoke was now billowing from the blast site around 100 meters away. A Gwarsha resident said planes could be seen flying over the area and described the situation as a war.
Sporadic fighting has taken place in Benghazi throughout the day after Ansar Al-Sharia last night surrounded Benghazi Security Directorate (BSD), demanding the release of three prisoners and exchanging fire with security forces.
A source within the directorate, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Libya Herald that the Islamist forces also fired mortars at the BSD but missed, landing near a restaurant in Beloauwn and destroying a car in the Bohdima district.
The source said Ansar Al-Sharia approached the BSD in convoy at around midnight, surrounding it from three directions on roads leading from Beloauwn, Bohdima and Sidi Faraj. He said the assault was linked to arrests made earlier in the day of three Ansar Al-Sharia members who had been stopped and detained by the BSD for moving large quantities of automatic weapons and ammunition in their car.
Fighting erupted soon after midnight when the security directorate refused to give up the detainees. However, no one has been reported injured in the clashes. The spokesperson for Jalaa Hospital, Fadia Al-Barghati, said no casualties had arrived overnight at the hospital as a result of the attack.
Hijezi claimed Ansar Al-Sharia had deployed a number of snipers on a roof close to nursing college, which has a clear view of the BSD, during last night’s clashes. He described Ansar Al-Sharia as criminals and cowards who would only attack under the cover of darkness.
The sound of bombing and anti-aircraft fire could be heard across Benghazi. Residents said these were the worst clashes in the city since General Khalifa Hifter launched Operation Dignity over a week and a half ago. [/restrict]