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20 May 2017, 08:57 | Terri Saunders
A member of the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army fires a machine gun in the eastern coastal city of Benghazi
The unity government, the rival administration in eastern Libya and their respective backers are battling for influence in the North African country which has been wracked by chaos since the fall of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.
Mohamed Agliwan, a spokesman of the western Libya faction, allied to the internationally recognised government, said they had "liberated the base and destroyed all the forces inside".
They were attacked by a brigade from the western city of Misrata known as the Third Force, which previously controlled the base and is nominally aligned with the United Nations -backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli.
At least 60 people were killed as rival Libyan forces clashed at a southern air base on Thursday, medical and military officials said, dimming hopes that tensions in the area can be calmed.
The UN envoy to Libya earlier on Friday voiced alarm at reports of the attack on the base, 650 kilometres south of Tripoli.
Mismari said the 12th Brigade had eventually repelled the attack.
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LNA, headed by General Khalifa Haftar, does not recognize the authority of the GNA and is linked to the rival House of Representatives (HoR), the country's elected legislature, which operates from the city of Tobruk on Libya's eastern Mediterranean coast. There has as yet been no independent verification of the number of casualties. The servicemen were not able to offer much resistance as they were unarmed, LNA spokesman Ahmad Al-Mimari said in a statement on Friday, as cited by AFP.
He condemned the escalation at Brak Al-Shati "in the strongest terms" and called for an immediate ceasefire.
The Presidency Council also condemned the attack on Brak Al-Shati and denied any links to it. This group will be anathema to Haftar who claims he is commander in chief of the Libyan National Army not the PC which he does not even recognize.
Also on Friday, a auto bomb south of Benghazi killed a prominent tribal leader linked to the LNA along with five other people. Gliwan said the Third Force had stationed themselves outside the base because they were concerned about retaliatory air strikes, but were positioned to target the 12th Brigade with shelling.
The LNA has been fighting a three-year campaign against Islamist militants and other opponents in Benghazi and other parts of eastern Libya.
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