Artillery fire hits power station in Libya’s Benghazi

Five of the six transformers at the facility were knocked out after it was struck on Friday

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Artillery fire in Libya’s second city Benghazi on Saturday hit a key power station that provides electricity to much of the country’s east, a security official and an engineer said.

Mussa Suleimani, an engineer at the power station, said five of the six transformers at the facility were knocked out after it was struck on Friday evening and twice on Saturday.

He said that it was likely that power cuts which have plagued the eastern city, cradle of the 2011 uprising that toppled dictator Muammar Qaddafi, would worsen across the region.

“It is the fifth time in two months that the power station... has been hit,” said Suleimani.

As a result, he said, outages of up to eight hours were to be expected in the area between Benghazi and the town of Musaed some 500 kilometers (300 miles) farther east near the border with Egypt.

“Specialized foreign firms will be needed to repair the transformers that have been damaged, but that will be difficult because of the bad security situation,” he added.

A security official blamed “terrorists” for the attack.

“Howitzers were used in the attacks,” said Captain Adnan al-Baba, a spokesman for a Libyan anti-terrorism squad.

He said for such guns to hit with precision “someone on the inside must supply the terrorists” with specific coordinates otherwise “it is impossible to target the power station.”

Shelling of the nearby Tawergha camp for displaced killed a woman and wounded nine other people including a child, said Fadia al-Barghathi of the Al-Jalla hospital in Benghazi.

Pro-government forces have fought an array of armed factions, notably Islamists, for control of Libya’s second city in the past 18 months.

Libya descended into chaos after the October 2011 ouster and killing of Qaddafi, with two governments vying for power and armed groups battling over its vast energy resources.

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