3 Killed, 86 Wounded in Bombing at Libya Mosque

Friday, 9 February, 2018 - 18:45
Asharq Al-Awsat

Three people were killed on Friday and 86 wounded after a bomb went off inside a mosque in the eastern city of Benghazi in Libya.

Health Minister in the eastern-based government Rida al-Awkaly told Asharq Al-Awsat that the bombing took place inside the Saad Ibn Ibada mosque, located between Benghazi's al-Majouri and Berka districts, during Friday prayers.

He said that the explosive devices were planted in the air conditioners at the mosque, denying earlier claims that they were remotely detonated with a mobile phone.

Other officials said however that the devices were placed inside handbags inside the mosque. Some officials stated that the bags were planted near the restrooms, others on shoe racks and others inside a coffin. They said that they were remotely detonated.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Later, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya condemned the attack in a statement. "This heinous act should not provide a justification for revenge attacks. Prompt, impartial investigations should bring perpetrators to justice," the group said.

Benghazi, the country’s second largest city, is controlled by the Libyan National Army (LNA), the dominant force in eastern Libya led by commander Khalifa Haftar.

The LNA was battling extremists, including some linked to ISIS and al Qaeda, as well as other opponents until late last year in the Mediterranean port city.

Haftar, a possible contender in national elections that could be held by the end of 2018, has built his reputation on delivering stability in Benghazi and beyond, promising to halt the anarchy that ensued after a NATO-backed uprising ended Moammar Gadhafi’s rule nearly seven years ago.

Haftar launched his military campaign in Benghazi in May 2014 in response to a series of bombings and assassinations blamed on extremists.

In the past few months there have been occasional, smaller scale bombings apparently targeting LNA allies or supporters.

Haftar does not recognize the UN-backed government based in the western capital Tripoli.

The United Nations has been trying to mediate for years, hoping elections can help stabilize Libya. But staging a vote is a major challenge in a country still split among military and political factions, and where rival governments have claimed authority since the result of a 2014 vote was disputed. Security in many parts of Libya is poor.

Read More ...