By Maha Suliman and Adam Ali.
Benghazi, 3 November 2014:
Fires are raging onboard a Libyan Navy vessel after it . . .[restrict]was struck by a missile during heavy clashes between pro-government forces and Benghazi Revolutionaries Shoura Council (BRSC) battling for control of Benghazi’s port.
One of the few remaining residents in Benghazi’s central Sabri district told the Libya Herald that fierce fighting had erupted in the area this afternoon with further clashes at a naval base some ten kilometres away from the main seaport.
The navy ship was struck by the missile in exchanges at the base. The resident explained that naval personnel there had barricaded the roads leading towards their position as navy ships from the east sailed into port.
In response the forces of BRSC moved on the naval base with technical vehicles carrying mounted anti-aircraft guns and and one or two armoured personnel carriers. In the subsequent battle armed naval guards were able to repulse the BRSC convoy pushing it back to Suq Al-Hood.
Mohamed Hejazi, a Libyan National Army (LNA) spokesman, said fighting had continued in Suq Al-Hood into the evening but was beginning to subside. He too said that the fire on board the ship had been caused by a BRSC missile.
To the north of the naval base, the army deployed a number of tanks which moved from the outskirts of the Sabri district towards central Benghazi. One rocket hit the nearby Narwan Hotel which had to be evacuated by the Red Crescent because of the fierce fighting.
Sabri residents reportedly joined the fray on the side of the army. Most local gunmen came from the area’s Abdul Monem and Riyad streets. The worst of the clashes took place at one of Sabri’s main junctions near to where a police station was destroyed in July.
As well as evacuating the Narwan Hotel, the Libyan Red Crescent also helped move staff and patients from central Benghazi’s 7 October Hospital which was also threatened by the fighting. A spokesman said eight intensive-care patients were evacuated and six members of medical staff, five of whom were Filipinos.