Benghazi: Fierce clashes between the Libyan security forces and militants in the country's second largest city of Benghazi killed over 40 people and injured a number of others, sources said Sunday.
The Libyan National Army mounted a huge offensive on the city to wipe out Islamist militants led by the Ansar al-Sharia and its allies, Xinhua reported, citing a military official.
According to the official, the army dubbed the manoeuvre as the "final offensive" in which tanks, warplanes, helicopters and missiles were used to eliminate the militants "once and for all".
The Libyan army, which has allied with some secular militia, has been mounting attacks since last May, trying to retake the city.
Sources at the Jalaa Hospital and Benghazi Medical Centre said they received at least 13 bodies and 62 injured people, following the clashes.
The Libyan army spokesperson said that the security forces killed about 30 Ansar al-Sharia militants, adding that three Libyan soldiers also died in combat, according to a Libya Herald report, cited by Xinhua.
Libya's Red Crescent said Saturday they had evacuated 118 people from the war zone, including foreigners stranded in a hospital, and 15 families from their homes in south Benghazi.
The Libyan forces, last week, announced that they have taken the Benghazi port area under their control. The port, vital to importing food and gasoline, had fallen to the Islamist militants last October.
Benghazi, the originating place of the 2011 protests that toppled Libya's former leader Muammar Gaddafi, has since witnessed a drastic escalation of violence.
The city has been a focal point for clashes between the army and Islamist militants, and is plagued by suicide attacks, assassinations, kidnappings.