Benghazi: A Libyan warplane under the command of a renegade former general targeted an Islamist militia base in the eastern city of Benghazi yesterday but instead hit a university building, witnesses said.
The attack was part of a campaign by irregular forces loyal to former army general Khalifa Haftar to purge the North African state of Islamist militants whom he says the weak central government has failed to control.
Libya is in turmoil three years after the Nato-backed war that ousted Muammar Gaddafi, with Islamist, anti-Islamist, regional and political factions locked in conflict. One jet attacked a historic building which houses a base belonging to the militant group Ansar Al Sharia, said Mohamed Al Hejazi, a spokesman for Haftar.
“Our forces attacked the crown prince’s former building where Ansar Al Sharia is based,” he said.
But a reporter at the scene said there was no damage at the building that had been home to the crown prince when Libya was a kingdom before Gaddafi’s 1969 coup. Instead the warplane fired three rockets at a neighboring university engineering faculty, said its dean, Nasser Al Aqouri.
Two people were wounded, Aqouri said. “Thank God, lectures had already finished but there is huge material damage.”
Hejazi said the jet had taken off from Benghazi’s Benina air base, where regular military units have joined Haftar’s campaign which began last month.