TRIPOLI, Libya – Rooftop snipers and knife-wielding assailants killed six soldiers in Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi early Saturday, officials said, in the largest attack on the country’s new security forces to date.
The brazen overnight assault by hundreds of plain-clothed gunmen on security installations forced soldiers to flee some of their bases. In one case, soldiers fled out the back door of the First Infantry Brigade’s headquarters in Benghazi as assailants stormed the main gate, torching the building and two military vehicles.
Security officials say 11 people were wounded, including assailants.
It was the city’s second deadly incident this week. Thirty-one people, mostly civilians, died days earlier at an anti-militia protest.
The latest violence underscored the government’s failure to clamp down on a proliferation of weapons after the country’s eight month civil war ousted longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in late 2011. It also comes as the government is trying to rebuild its security forces and rein in militias, many of which were born out of rebel groups that fought Gadhafi’s forces.
Benghazi, the country’s second-largest city and the first to revolt against Gadhafi, has been rocked over the past year by assassinations of police officials and attacks on foreign missions including the U.S. consulate last September that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
Tensions have been boiling in the city over militias ever since, with the military taking over several bases this week. The country’s nascent army and police force still rely on militias to help maintain security.
As with past attacks, no group claimed responsibility Saturday. No arrests have been announced.