Libya chaos: Militias take key Benghazi base, Italy offers to douse Tripoli oil depot fire

The militias took control of the key military base after heavy shelling forced the officers to abandon the site.

By Supriya Jha | Last Updated: Jul 30, 2014, 13:35 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha

Tripoli: As Libya witnesses the worst violence since 2011`s civil war, Islamist-led militias have captured a Special Forces base in eastern city of Benghazi, a day after 38 were killed in clashes between forces loyal to government and Islamist fighters.

The militias took control of the key military base after heavy shelling forced the officers to abandon the site.

"We have withdrawn from the Army base after heavy shelling," Special Forces officer Fadel al-Hassi told reporters on Tuesday.

The capture of the army base in Benghazi came as the clashes between rival Libyan militias resumed in Tripoli for the control of main airport.

Meanwhile, in Tripoli, former deputy prime minister Mustafa Abu Shagor was kidnapped by by unidentified gunmen.

The former deputy PM was kidnapped from his residence as gunmen forced him in a car in Tripoli`s al-Andalus region, a parliamentarian told Xinhua.

The latest bout of violence in the OPEC nation was triggered two weeks ago when Islamist-led militias from Misrata staged an attack on Tripoli airport, which is under control of militias from Zintan.

Since then the clashes have continued killing 97 people and injured hundreds, according to Libyan Health Ministry.

As the airport was attacked on Sunday, the biggest fuel depot in Tripoli caught fire. The government blamed the rebel militias for obstructing the work of dousing the blaze, however Italy has reportedly offered to assist in extinguishing the blaze.

As Libya is increasingly slipping into a phase of chaos and violence, other nations are prohibiting its citizens to ravel to the region, and also urged its citizens living in Benghazi to leave.

Egypt has warned its citizens living in Tripoli and Benghazi to leave the cities.

The UK Foreign Office advised its citizens Sunday to leave the country immediately because of the "greater intensity of fighting" in Tripoli and the likelihood of further attacks on foreigners. Germany, France and Spain also issued warnings for their citizens to leave.

On Saturday, the US evacuated its diplomats in Tripoli to neighboring Tunisia and shut its embassy.

The UN Support Mission in Libya and the International Committee of the Red Cross have withdrawn their staff as well.

Libya, which was exempted from decades-old dictatorship in 2011 after a gory civil war that ousted Muammar Gaddafi, is still struggling to maintain law and order and a stable government as the rivalry between militias has intensified.