At least 10 people were killed today when rockets struck several residential districts of Libya's Benghazi city as the army fought with Islamist militias, medics said.

At least 180 people have been killed since pro-government forces launched an offensive on Islamists in Libya's second-largest city two weeks ago - part of chaos gripping the major oil producer three years after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi.

The nascent army, backed by forces of former army general Khalifa Haftar and armed youths, had made initial gains by expelling Islamists from the airport area and claiming the seizure of one of their strongholds in the port city.

But heavy fighting erupted again on Wednesday in several parts of the city and rockets and artillery shells hit residential districts, residents said.

"Ten bodies were delivered to hospitals," said a medic.

Benghazi, home to several oil firms, has been a battlefield since May when Haftar declared war on Islamists such as the Ansar al-Sharia - blamed by Washington for a 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate that killed the American ambassador.

Libya is divided between rival tribes and political factions, with two governments vying for legitimacy after an armed group from the western city of Misrata seized Tripoli in August, forcing the internationally recognised Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni to move to the east.

The interior ministry tightened security in the eastern city of Tobruk, where the elected parliament is operating, after a car bomb exploded in front of the security headquarters on Tuesday, wounding one person, a security official said.

Tobruk, close to the Egyptian border, has been largely spared the violence gripping many other parts of the country.

The situation in Benghazi and other parts of Libya has been fluid as the army is unable to control militias which often have better arms. Haftar's forces have planes from Libya's outdated air force though his opponents say he is backed by Egypt, which is worried about the spread of militants. Haftar denies this.

Most foreign embassies withdrew their staff in the summer when the Misrata-led forces expelled a rival group from Tripoli.


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