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21 killed, scores injured in Libya clashes

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TRIPOLI — Clashes erupted in Benghazi between Libya’s army troops and rebel armed groups Monday, causing at least 21 deaths and about 110 injuries, authorities said.

The clashes were mainly in the Garyounes area. The militia groups’ February 17 Brigade and Ansar al-Sharia jointly attacked the base of Libyan Special Forces 21 Battalion which sided with renegade general Khalifa Haftar, Xinhua quoted air force commander Colonel Saad Warfali as saying.

Army warplanes fought back by bombing several sites of the Islamic groups in Rulrhh, Onfodh and Sidi Faraj region on the outskirts of Benghazi, a military source said on condition of anonymity.

Warfali said some warplanes took off from an air base in the eastern city of Tobruk to carry out the bombardment mission.

Galaa Hospital has received so far 11 bodies and 54 wounded people, mostly military personnel, hospital authorities said. Sources from Benghazi Medical Centre and hospitals in east Benghazi said they had received 10 bodies and 58 injured people.

“The son of Benghazi Medical Centre director Dr Fathi Jehani was killed by shrapnels from a rocket that fell on their house at dawn Monday,” a source said.

The media reported that the Islamist fighters were seeking revenge after days of airstrikes by air forces loyal to Haftar.

Haftar’s warplanes Sunday launched three airstrikes targeting militia bases, damaging their camps and some civilian facilities.

Haftar, who played a major role in toppling Libya’s former leader Muammar Gaddafi, has led a series of military operations against Islamist militia in Benghazi in the name of “purging terrorists.”

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