BENGHAZI, Libya - At least 38 people, mostly soldiers, were killed in 24 hours of fierce fighting between the Libyan army and Islamists in the eastern city of Benghazi, officials said Sunday.
A military source said the clashes broke out on Saturday when Islamist groups launched an assault on the headquarters of a special force unit near the city centre, causing casualties among forces defending their barracks.
Benghazi's main hospital said the bodies of 28 soldiers had been taken there in the past 24 hours, along with 50 injured, while Al-Marj hospital, 100 kilometres (60 miles) to the east, spoke of two soldiers dead and 10 injured.
A spokesman for the self-proclaimed Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries, an alliance of Islamic and jihadist militia, who have claimed a number of attacks on military bases in Benghazi, announced that eight of its fighters had died.
Overnight, special force commander Wanis Abu Khamada told Libya Al-Ahrar television that his troops "still have the capacity to repel any attack on state institutions".
An AFP correspondent reported that several families could be seen leaving the area of the clashes, as loud explosions were heard in the city on Sunday morning.