Car Bombing Kills 15, Wounds 30 Outside A Benghazi Hospital
A car bomb has exploded outside a major hospital in Libya’s northern city of Benghazi, killing at least three people and wounding dozens more, according to official sources.
Witnesses and an official said that the bomb struck the car park of the city’s emergency Al-Jala hospital on Monday afternoon.
Earlier estimates for the dead were as high as 15.
The AFP news agency said at least 30 people had been wounded besides the fatalities.
Benghazi was the cradle of the uprising that ended Muammar Gaddafi’s 42 years of iron rule in 2011.
The blast was caused by a car bomb and “caused deaths and injuries”, a security official said, without immediately being able to give further details.
Abdullah Massoud, Libyan deputy interior minister, said the blast caused massive damage in the hospital area.
It damaged a dozen or more vehicles and shattered the windows of buildings nearby, sending aloft a thick cloud of smoke and flinging dust several blocks away.
Only one of the dead was carried into the hospital intact, a doctor told Reuters news agency, which made it difficult to immediately establish the number of people killed.
Another doctor said three deaths were confirmed including a child, along with 17 injuries.
“I saw people running and some of them were collecting parts of bodies,” a witness who declined to be identified said.
Hundreds of angry people gathered at the scene, blaming armed groups for the explosion and calling for them to be driven from Benghazi.
Tripoli-based Libya analyst Faraj Najem told Al Jazeera that the likeliest culprits would be “criminal gangs” or Gaddafi loyalists.
“This could be a criminal, but also there are speculations that this could be the work of the Gaddafi loyalists who
Benghazi has seen frequent attacks and assassinations targeting security officials in recent months who have been active recently, and causing mayhem,” said Najem.
The post-Gaddafi transitional government based in Tripoli exerts scant authority over much of the country.
The latest violence comes days after the US and Britain withdrew some staff from their embassies in the Libyan capital citing security concerns over a flare-up between armed groups and the authorities.
The fighters, mostly former rebels who helped topple Gaddafi, had surrounded the foreign and justice ministries to press for a vote in the National Assembly barring former officials of his regime from holding government jobs.
They lifted the siege on Sunday, ending a two-week standoff, days after the vote was passed by the General National Congress and a pledge by Ali Zeidan, the prime minister, to reshuffle the cabinet soon.