Police station in Libya's Benghazi attacked, four killed

Sun Dec 16, 2012 12:45pm EST
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BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - Four policemen in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi were killed when a police compound was attacked on Sunday, a security official said, in the latest violence to plague the cradle of Libya's uprising.

The attack is believed to be linked to the recent detention of two men in connection with several assassinations of security officials in the city, as the assault happened next door to a police station where they were being held.

Unknown assailants fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the compound, which houses patrol cars, damaging an office and killing one policeman, police spokesman Khaled Hidar said.

A gun battle then followed and three of the police reinforcements who arrived at the scene were killed.

"It was a long battle. Three other policemen were severely injured," Hidar said.

He said two men recently detained in connection with a series of assassinations in the city, including that of Benghazi police chief Faraj al-Deirsy last month, were being held in the police station next door. Deirsy was killed in front of his home last month.

"This happened as two people were detained recently ... in connection with the series of assassinations in Benghazi," Hidar said, adding that Libya's new interior minister had ordered police reinforcements to Benghazi.

In September, the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, the worst of a string of attacks on international convoys and official buildings in the city.

Libya's government is struggling to contain former fighters and militias who gained power during last year's uprising, which started in Benghazi and went on to oust Muammar Gaddafi.   Continued...