By Noorah Ibrahim.
Benghazi, 15 June 2014:
Benghazi and much of central-eastern Libya was today without power for the greater part of the afternoon as fighting raged around . . .[restrict]the Sidi Faraj area of the city, where for the first time the Dignity forces used tanks along with aerial bombardment and helicopter gunships.
There are unconfirmed reports that Ansar Al-Sharia forces were surrounded in the Sidi Faraj district which was later overrun by Saiqa troops from the 21st and 36th Brigades and and Libyan army.
The new battle broke out in the small hours of the morning when, according Operation Dignity spokesman Mohamed Hejazi, aircraft attacked a convoy of around 20 vehicles belonging to Ansar Al-Sharia and the Omar Mukhtar Brigade which is commanded by Zeyad Balam. They were coming from Ganfouda, he said.
From most parts of the city, almost continuous gun-fire was heard until mid-morning when the exchanges became intermittent.
The electricity blackout came, according to Reuters, after a rocket hit a substation. However GECOL engineers had warned yesterday that the already damaged local power network was in danger of tripping out unless urgent repairs were made.
Ansar fighters used anti-aircraft guns against the attacking planes and fired salvos of Grad rockets. While the heaviest exchanges were in Sidi Faraj, there has also been fighting in Hawari, Ganfouda and Guwarsha.
There are claims that up to eight have died in some of the most ferocious fighting of recent days. One dead man, a Libyan, has been confirmed by Jelaa Hospital, where two wounded Sudanis have been taken. It is also confirmed that two wounded were brought to the Benghazi Medical Centre. It is also reported that there are seven dead in and up to a dozen wounded at the hospital at Al-Abyar, 60 km south of Benghazi.
Hejazi said that people had been killed on both sides but he was not in a position to give a figure. He accused Ansar forces of firing indiscriminately into civilian areas. He also said that he could not say how long the present operation would continue.