Benghazi /bɛnˈɡɑːzi/ (Arabic: بنغازي Banghāzī) is the second largest city in Libya, the largest city in the region of Barqah, and the former joint capital of Libya. In 2014, the city became Libya's constitutionally de facto legislative capital, although the country's parliament, the Majlis al Nuwwab, convened in Tobruk as of Summer 2014 because of poor security in Benghazi. Benghazi's wider metropolitan area (which includes the southern towns of Gimeenis and Suluq) is also a district of Libya. The port city is located on the Mediterranean Sea.
During the Kingdom era of Libya's history, Benghazi enjoyed a joint-capital status (alongside Tripoli), possibly because the King used to reside in the nearby city of Bayda and the Senussis (royal family) in general were associated with Cyrenaica rather than Tripolitania. The city was also provisional capital of the National Transitional Council. Benghazi continues to hold institutions and organizations normally associated with a national capital city, such as the country's parliament, national library, and the headquarters of Libyan Airlines, the national airline, and of the National Oil Corporation. This creates a constant atmosphere of rivalry and sensitivities between Benghazi and Tripoli, and by extension between the two regions (Cyrenaica and Tripolitania). The population of the entire district was 500,120 in the 1995 census and had increased to 670,797 in the 2006 census.
The HIV trial in Libya (or Bulgarian nurses affair) concerns the trials, appeals and eventual release of six foreign medical workers charged with conspiring to deliberately infect over 400 children with HIV in 1998, causing an epidemic at El-Fatih Children's Hospital in Benghazi, Libya. The defendants, arrested in 1999, were a Palestinian medical intern and five Bulgarian nurses (often termed "medics"). They were first sentenced to death, then had their case remanded by Libya's highest court, and were sentenced to death again, a penalty which was upheld by Libya's highest court in early July 2007. The six then had their sentences commuted to life in prison by a Libyan government panel. They were released following a deal reached with European Union representatives on humanitarian issues (the EU did not condone the guilty verdict in Libya against the six). On 24 July 2007, the five medics and the doctor were extradited to Bulgaria, where their sentences were commuted by the Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov and they were freed. Libya has since complained about the releases. Furthermore, a controversy has arisen concerning the terms of release, which allegedly include an arms trade as well as a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement signed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in July 2007. Both the French president and the Bulgarian president have denied that the two deals were related to the liberation of the six, although this has been alleged by a variety of sources, including Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
The 2012 Benghazi attack took place on the evening of September 11, 2012, when Islamic militants attacked the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, killing U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith. Stevens was the first U.S. Ambassador killed in the line of duty since 1979. The attack has also been referred to as the Battle of Benghazi.
Several hours later, a second assault targeted a different compound about one mile away, killing CIA contractors Tyrone S. Woods and Glen Doherty. Ten others were also injured in the attacks.
Many Libyans condemned the attacks and praised the late ambassador. They staged public demonstrations condemning the militias (formed during the 2011 civil war to oppose leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi) that were suspected of the attacks.
The United States immediately increased security worldwide at diplomatic and military facilities and began investigating the Benghazi attack. In the aftermath of the attack, State Department officials were criticized for denying requests for additional security at the consulate prior to the attack. In her role as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton subsequently took responsibility for the security lapses.