Twin car bombs kill at least 37 in Benghazi

#LibyaCrisis

No group has claimed responsibility for attack that marks latest round of violence in Libya's civil war

Libya has been rocked by chaos since a 2011 uprising that toppled and killed Muammar Gaddafi (Reuters)
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Last update: 
Wednesday 24 January 2018 21:48 UTC
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The death toll from a double car bombing in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi rose to 37 people on Wednesday, with about 60 people wounded, medical officials said.

The first blast on Tuesday evening hit worshippers leaving a mosque in Benghazi's central Al Salmani district. The second, about 15 minutes later, inflicted a large number of casualties among people who had gathered at the scene.

The victims included both military personnel and civilians, officials said.

The toll was one of the highest from a single attack since Libya slid into turmoil after the uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Benghazi was the scene of more than three years of conflict from 2014 until late last year, as forces loyal to eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar battled Islamists and other opponents.

Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) claimed control of their rivals' final holdout in the port city in December. There have been occasional bomb attacks in Benghazi in recent months, often outside mosques.

Haftar in July announced the "total liberation" of Benghazi, three years after his forces launched a military operation to seize the city from militants, who had made it a stronghold following the revolution. 

But clashes and attacks in the city have continued, including against diplomatic facilities and security forces.

Haftar supports a parliament based in the far east of Libya, while a rival United Nations-backed unity government in the western capital Tripoli has struggled to assert its authority nationwide.

Meanwhile, the UN Libya mission said it was alarmed by reports of "brutal and outrageous summary executions" in the eastern city of Benghazi on Wednesday, after pictures emerged appearing to show at least nine prisoners being shot dead at the site of a twin car bombing.

The gunman resembles Mahmoud al-Werfalli, a bearded special forces commander wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for allegedly carrying out a number of similar killings.

"(The UN) demands the handing over of Mahmoud al-Werfalli immediately to (the ICC) as it documented at least 5 similar cases, in 2017 alone, carried out or ordered by alWerfalli," the  UN Libya mission said on its Twitter account.

"Those responsible for committing or ordering summary executions are criminally liable under international law."