Car bomb explodes outside Libya's elected parliament in Tobruk
A suicide bomber blew up a car on Tuesday in front of the hotel that houses Libya’s elected parliament in the eastern city of Tobruk.
There were no deaths, but 18 people were injured in the blast, including three MPs, according to the House of Representatives’ (HoR) spokesperson.
Farraj Hashem told Reuters by phone that the explosion occurred in a car park near the entrance of the Dar Es Salam hotel in Tobruk.
“The car bomb caused heavy damage inside the building,” lawmaker Tareq al-Garrouchi told the Anadolu Agency (AA).
The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) condemned the “terrorist attack” against the HoR.
“This despicable act will only increase the determination of those Libyans seeking a political solution to forge ahead with their efforts to bring stability and security to Libya,” the UNSMIL statement read.
“UNSMIL once again stresses that violence will not solve Libya’s problems. The Mission urges Libyans to desist from violence and to seek to resolve their political and security crises through dialogue.”
The European Union also condemned the bombing, saying violence "can only bring further suffering to the Libyan people". The EU also said it was prepared to impose previously adopted UN sanctions on those fuelling the violence.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, although previous bombings have been blamed on militants in the town of Derna, further east from Tobruk, where some groups have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) group.
The HoR resumed its session shortly after the explosion – the second attack in Tobruk after another car bomb in November killed two soldiers and injured dozens.
The HoR – elected in June and internationally recognised – moved east after the Misratan Led Alliance of Libya Dawn seized control of the capital Tripoli in August.
Libya Dawn have revived the defunct General National Congress, which was replaced by the HoR, and appointed Omar al-Hassi as prime minister.
Libya is in the midst of a civil war that has seen rival cities, tribes and militias pitted against each other in a battle for control of North Africa’s largest oil reserves.
At the country’s largest oil refinery – Es Sider – two oil storage tanks remained on fire Tuesday after a week of fighting between Libya Dawn and forces allied to the HoR.
National Oil Corp (NOC) spokesperson Mohamed El Harari told Reuters two other storage tanks have collapsed and fires at two more have been extinguished.
A military spokesperson also announced on Tuesday that pro-Tobruk forces had downed a helicopter from Libya Dawn, who had launched fresh attacks on forces around the Es Sider oil terminal.
"The air force shot down the helicopter as it prepared to land at a military base near Sirte airport, after it had taken part with other aircraft in the air raids," military spokesperson Ali al-Hassi told AFP.
There were no immediate reports of casualties.
On Monday the HoR approved a $6mn deal with a US firm that will send experts to extinguish the fires, a statement said.
Industry sources said at least 1.2mn barrels of oil have been destroyed by the blazes.
Oil accounts for 95 percent of state revenue in Libya and 65 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The country has the largest oil reserves in Africa and the fifth largest in the world, with oil terminals scattered across the country but mainly concentrated in the northeast.