Masked, armed civilians have set up checkpoints across Libya's restive eastern city of Benghazi, as sporadic airstrikes and fighting between army troops and Islamist militias continued overnight and into the early hours of the morning.

Army supporters used garbage dumpsters, tires, and cars to block streets and search people. Most shops were shuttered, although a few bakeries, pharmacies and coffee shops were open early in the morning.

The Thursday scene in Benghazi, the birthplace of Libya's 2011 uprising that led to downfall of Moammar Gadhafi, follows a day of heavy bombardment ahead of a planned army push to take back the city from militias.