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Autonomy proposal triggers Libya clash

March 17, 2012 at 1:29 PM

BENGHAZI, Libya, March 17 (UPI) -- Street clashes broke out in Libya over calls for semi-autonomy in the Cyrenaica territory, leaving at least one person dead, witnesses reported.

Italy's Agenzia Giornalistica Italia said another five people were hurt in the confrontation in Benghazi Friday between supporters and opponents of Cyrenaica's proposal to break away from the Fezzan and Tripolitania regions of Libya.

Witnesses told the BBC a rally in favor of semi-autonomy was broken up by opponents of the idea who were armed with rifles and knives.

The BBC said the autonomy plan stops short of dividing Libya but would give oil-rich Cyrenaica its own parliament and control over the police.

Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Fezzan all enjoyed a level of federalist autonomy after Libya became independent in 1951 until the country unified in 1963, the BBC said.

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