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Blast in Libya's Benghazi an 'accident'

Ministers say there's possibility explosion that left four dead was not deliberate car bombing as previously thought.

Last Modified: 15 May 2013 02:36
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Funerals and prayers were held for the victims attended by dozens of Benghazi residents [Reuters]

A bomb blast outside a hospital in the Libyan city of Benghazi that left at least four dead could have been an accident, senior ministers have said.

Ministers said on Tuesday that they were now considering the possibility that the day-time blast on Monday outside Benghazi's Al-Jala hospital was not a deliberate car bombing as previously thought.

"All the signs point to an accidental explosion," Interior Minister Ashur Shwayel said at a press conference in Libya's second city.

Justice Minister Salah al-Mirghani said it was "too early to draw any conclusions," but "among the theories being looked at, there was the possibility that this accident was not premeditated and that the explosion was not intended for this location".

According to a preliminary report by the army, the car was not stationary when it exploded and it was transporting explosives used to make anti-tank mines.

The two people inside the car when it exploded have not yet been identified, the justice minister said.

The health ministry, meanwhile, said in a statement that it has reached a "definitive toll" of three dead and 14 others wounded in the explosion.

Libyan fishermen often use explosives to snare their catch, but rights activists said the incident was symptomatic of deteriorating security in a country whose government exerts scant authority beyond the capital Tripoli.

Fiefdoms of armed groups

The oil-producer is largely split into fiefdoms of armed groups that were instrumental in the 2011 revolution that ousted dictator Muammar Gaddafi and are now competing for influence.

"The root cause of the accident is the weakness of the state. There is no control, no army and no security," Zeid Al-Ragas, an activist said.

"These explosives are manufactured into bombs and thrown into the sea to catch many fish. A lot of people use it ... The big question is: If fisherman can get these materials so easily, what sort of weapons can the militias obtain?"

On Tuesday, funerals and prayers were held for the victims attended by dozens of Benghazi residents angry at the lack of security in their city.

The city has seen a wave of violence in recent weeks.

Authorities blame militias for the violence, including a deadly attack in September last year against the US consulate in Benghazi that killed ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

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