Africa

UN announces 12-hour truce in Libya’s Benghazi

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Pro-government forces and militants in Libya’s restive city of Benghazi have agreed on a 12-hour humanitarian ceasefire, the UN mission in Libya says.

The truce, which started at 7 am local time (0500 GMT), is intended to ease the evacuation of civilians, the retrieval of dead bodies, the removal of sewage and the restocking of food and medical supplies, the mission said on Wednesday.

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

It said the truce could be extended pending agreement by all sides.

This is the first UN-brokered ceasefire in Benghazi since the start of a government-backed offensive to retake the city from militants a month ago.

This comes as medical sources say at least 340 people have been killed in fighting in Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi since October 15.

The Red Crescent and hospital sources said in November that more than 200 of those killed were soldiers.

Besides Benghazi, militant groups are also present in Libya’s two other main cities, namely, the capital city of Tripoli and Misrata, located in the northwestern part of the country.

Libya plunged into chaos following the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime dictator, Muammar Gaddafi. The ouster of Gaddafi gave rise to a patchwork of heavily-armed militias and deep political divisions.

The North African country has been witnessing numerous clashes between government forces and rival militia groups that refuse to lay down arms. The groups are now turning their guns on each other in an attempt to dominate politics and the country’s vast oil resources.

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