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In 1911, Benghazi was invaded by the Italians. Nearly half the local population of Cyrenaica under the leadership of Omar Mukhtar resisted the Italian occupation. Cyrenaica suffered oppression, particularly under the fascist dictator Mussolini. About 125,000 Libyans were forced into concentration camps, about one-third of whom perished (mainly because of epidemics).
In the early 1930s the revolt was over and the Italians -with the clever governor Italo Balbo- started to assimilate the local population with friendly policies: many new villages for Cyrenaicans were created with health services and schools.
Additionally Cyrenaica was populated by more than 20,000 Italian colonists in the late 1930s, mainly around the coast of Benghazi. Benghazi population was made by more than 35% of Italians in 1939. [6]
As a consequence there was in Cyrenaica and mostly in Benghazi a huge economic development in the second half of the 1930s. Benghazi was going to be connected in 1940 by a new railway to Tripoli, but in summer of that year war started between Italians and British and all the improvements were stopped.


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