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Benghazi militants remain active

| Friday, May 2, 2014, 5:48 p.m.

TRIPOLI, Libya — Gunmen attacked a security forces headquarters in Libya's eastern city of Benghazi early Friday, killing nine and wounding 24, authorities said, blaming an Islamist group allegedly behind the attack of a U.S. diplomatic post there.

A security official said the attack started when dozens of gunmen opened fire with machine guns and mortars.

Libyan commandos later arrived and fought the attackers, though the official said they suffered heavy casualties. A statement issued by the interim government put the death toll at nine people.

Milad al-Zowi, a commando spokesman, said the dead were six army commandos and three police officers.

A local hospital official said some of the slain troops were badly butchered, with some corpses burned. The official said his hospital treated 24 wounded in the fighting.

The government's statement blamed Ansar al-Shariah, a hard-line militia, for the attack, along with other “criminal groups.”

The government condemned the attack and said they will not accept “the presence of armed and illegal terrorist groups.”

Ansar al-Shariah has been blamed for the attacks on the U.S. posts that killed four Americans on Sept. 11, 2012.

In January, the State Department designated the two branches of the Ansar al-Shariah in Libya and a third branch in Tunisia as foreign terrorist organizations.

Benghazi, the birthplace of the 2011 uprising that led to the downfall of Moammar Gadhafi, has undergone a severe deterioration in security. The government has depended on unruly militias in the absence of a strong police force.

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