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Published: Tuesday June 17, 2014 MYT 5:45:02 AM
Updated: Tuesday June 17, 2014 MYT 5:46:34 AM

Libya bans car traffic at night in Benghazi to stem violence

BENGHAZI Libya (Reuters) - Libya has banned overnight car traffic in the eastern city of Benghazi to try to stem rising violence and anarchy, security officials said on Monday.

The North African oil producer is struggling with growing turmoil, with the government and parliament in Tripoli unable to control the militias, tribes and Islamists who helped oust Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 but are now defying state authority.

That is especially true for Benghazi, home to several oil companies, where security has deteriorated steadily since last year as militias roam around unchallenged, particularly at night. Car bombs have become common.

The situation has worsened since a renegade general a month ago declared war on Islamist militias such as the Ansar al-Sharia group, which is active in Benghazi. More than 100 people have been killed since then.

In an effort to regain control, a state security operations centre said in a statement it has banned cars from travelling in Libya's second-largest city from midnight until 6:00 a.m.

A security spokesman said the move was due to worsening security and a rise in crime, adding that state forces would set up checkpoints at night.

Libya's army and security forces, still in training since Gaddafi's overthrow, have said several times they plan to improve security in Benghazi by rolling out more forces, but any action has been short-lived.

Public life in Benghazi has almost come to a standstill, with the city's airport and universities closed since retired general Khalifa Haftar started his campaign in May.

Most nations have closed their consulates in Benghazi since the U.S. ambassador was killed in an Islamist assault on the U.S. consulate in September 2012.

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

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