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Libyan forces regain southern military base after airstrikes

The Libyan forces regained control of a southern military base from gunmen after war planes struck targets in the restive region, a defense ministry spokesman announced Saturday.

Abdul-Raziq al-Shabahi, the spokesman, said the army backed by airstrikes recaptured the Tamahind base outside Sabha, the biggest city in southern Libya.

Sabha, some 770 km south of the capital Tripoli, has long been a scene of clashes between rival tribes and militias. Earlier Saturday, fighting escalated again after several days of relative calm when the gunmen seized the base.

The government had to order in troops to contain the skirmishes. Also, the General National Congress, Libya's legislative authority, decided to put the army on alert given the security situation in the country, according to state news agency LANA.

Al-Shabahi said the government troops went on to pursue the attackers in the desert after they fled Tamahind. He identified them as supporters of former long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi, who was ousted and killed in an uprising backed by NATO forces in 2011.

[Source: Xinhua, Tripoli, 18Jan14]

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