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Clashes erupt in Benghazi following two explosions
Fighting leaves one soldier dead following attacks on judicial buildings, as violence escalates in eastern Libyan city.
29 July 2013, 12:00am
At least one person has been killed in overnight fighting in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, hours after explosions rocked the city in attacks on buildings used by the judiciary, a security official said.
The clashes erupted in the western Gwesha district between an armed group and military special forces on Monday, as an upsurge in violence in the eastern Libyan city since last week's killing of a prominent political activist showed no signs of abating.
"Clashes broke out between special forces and an unknown armed group," Mohammed al-Hijazy, a spokesman for Benghazi security operations, said.
"At least one soldier was killed. The special forces have now retaken control".
Hundreds of demonstrators also gathered in Benghazi's streets denouncing the latest violence, according to residents.
The clashes came after two blasts targeting judicial institutions in the city left at least 13 people wounded on Sunday.
Both blasts happened around the time families were breaking their Ramadan fast.
Residents living near the court said the building, and others nearby, had sustained significant damage. Windows were blasted out and rubble was scattered on the ground.
It was unclear who was responsible for the attacks.
The cradle of the 2011 uprising against Muammar Gaddafi, Benghazi has in the last three days witnessed explosions, assassinations, violent demonstrations and a mass jail break.
On Saturday, 1,117 prisoners escaped from Kuafiya prison following a riot and an external attack on the prison.
Authorities said that more than 100 of those who had escaped had been recaptured.
Armed violence and lawlessness, caused in part by often uncontrolled fighter groups, has hobbled governance in large areas of the oil-producing North African state following the 2011 war that toppled Gaddafi.
Meanwhile, the killing of popular Libyan political activist, Abdulsalam Musmari, in Benghazi has sparked country-wide protests against the Muslim Brotherhood.
Hundreds of men and women in Benghazi took to the streets last night in fury at the assassination of Musmari, one in a string of recent killings. Two military officials were also assassinated last night in Benghazi, one shot in the back while he was praying.
Convinced that members of the Muslim Brotherhood are behind the attacks, protestors said they wanted the organisation to leave both Benghazi and Libya. Protestors stormed two of the Muslim Brotherhood's main premises in the city, one of which was the local headquarters of the Justice and Construction Party (JCP) - the political arm of the Brotherhood. There have been reports that both were set alight.
Many of the protestors were in tears, mourning the loss of a political figure who, they say, consistently made a stand against militias and Islamists. He also frequently appeared on television to encourage the residents of Benghazi to stage protests in response to bombings and assassinations in the area.
Other towns and cities across the country have reportedly demonstrated in solidarity with Benghazi in the early hours of this morning. Protestors filled Tripoli's Martyrs' Square and the long-standing Political Isolation Law tent in one corner of the square, manned largely by Muslim Brotherhood supporters and activists, has been taken down.
There have also been reports of protests in Zintan, Tobruk and Zawiya.