UN announces 12-hour truce in Libya`s Benghazi

The United Nations said pro-government forces and Islamist militias fighting for control of Libya`s second city Benghazi agreed to a 12-hour humanitarian truce on Wednesday.

AFP| Last Updated: Nov 19, 2014, 18:46 PM IST

Tripoli: The United Nations said pro-government forces and Islamist militias fighting for control of Libya`s second city Benghazi agreed to a 12-hour humanitarian truce on Wednesday.

The UN-brokered ceasefire was the first in Benghazi since the launch of a government-backed offensive to recapture the eastern city from Islamists a month ago.

But there were signs that the truce was not being fully respected, according to a news agency's reporter who heard heavy weapons fire in the city, although its origin was unknown.

The move was aimed at enabling the evacuation of civilians, the retrieval of bodies, the removal of sewage and the restocking of food and medical supplies, the UN mission in Libya said.

"The humanitarian truce is critical to giving the people of Benghazi a much-needed reprieve from violence," it said, urging all parties "to fully abide by their commitments during the truce."

It said the truce in the eastern city began at 7 am (0500 GMT) and could be prolonged subject to agreement by all sides.

More than 350 people have been killed since the launch of the government-backed offensive led by retired general Khalifa Haftar against Islamist militias who took near total control of Benghazi in July.

Libyan authorities have struggled to assert control over powerful militias which ousted longtime autocratic leader Muammar Gaddafi in a 2011 revolt.

The internationally recognised government has been forced to take refuge in the country`s far east to escape a mainly Islamist coalition which seized control of Tripoli at the end of August.