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US to help Libya create commandos: report

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. administration has won congressional approval to devote US$8 million to helping Libya develop a commando force to fight extremist groups, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

The funds would be shifted from Pentagon operations in Pakistan to help Libya develop a force to counter increasingly powerful Islamist militants, like those who attacked the U.S. consulate last month killing four Americans.

The Times said plans for the elite Libyan force, expected to number some 500 troops, were in the works before the Sept. 11 attack but have been accelerated since then amid increased concern over the North African country.

Libya's weak central government has had to rely on a patchwork of militias — including many Islamist groups — to secure the country since rebels toppled the four-decade-old regime of Moammar Gadhafi last year.

The Times said a final decision on the program has not yet been made.

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