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Jul 31, 10:05 AM EDT

Libya Islamic militias declare control of Benghazi


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CAIRO (AP) -- Islamic hard-line militias are claiming to have taken control of Libya's second largest city, Benghazi, after defeating army units, taking over military barracks and seizing tanks, rockets and hundreds of boxes of ammunition.

A commander of one of the militias in the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries umbrella group told The Associated Press on Thursday, "We are the only force on the ground in Benghazi." He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press.

In a video put out by the umbrella group, Mohammed al-Zahawi, the head of the Ansar al-Shariah militia, congratulates his followers on "this victory and conquest."

The militias have been battling forces loyal to a renegade general, Khalifa Hifter, who had been waging a campaign to crush extremist militias.

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