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Published: Sunday May 4, 2014 MYT 5:20:02 AM
Updated: Sunday May 4, 2014 MYT 5:20:53 AM

Libyan commander survives assassination attempt in Benghazi-official

BENGHAZI Libya (Reuters) - A Libyan security official on Saturday survived an assassination attempt by members of an Islamist militia in the volatile eastern city of Benghazi, a security spokesman said.

Gunmen opened fire on the car of Abdullah al-Saiti, commander of the city's security operations centre, while he was travelling in central Benghazi, said Ibrahim al-Shara, a security spokesman.

Saiti escaped unhurt, he said. The security operations centre is the top command of government security forces and militias allied to the government in the eastern city.

On Friday the government accused Islamist militants of the Ansar al-Sharia group of killing nine special forces soldiers during an attack on the city's security headquarters.

Libya's weak central government is struggling to control

armed groups, militias and brigades of former rebels who helped

oust long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi in the 2011 civil war and

who now refuse to disarm.

Car bombings and assassinations of soldiers and police

officers have become common in Benghazi, where a suicide bomber

detonated an explosives-packed minibus outside a special forces

camp on Tuesday, killing two people.

Most countries have closed their consulates in the city and

some foreign airlines have stopped flying to the city since the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed in an Islamist militant attack in September 2012.

(Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli and Feras Bosalum; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Stephen Powell)

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