At least two people were killed when two car bombs exploded near interior ministry and security buildings in the Libyan capital, the first lethal attack of its kind since Muammar Gaddafi’s fall last year, security sources have said.
Ambulances and firefighters rushed to the scenes of Sunday’s dawn blasts, and large numbers of police cordoned off the sites before starting to remove the charred vehicles.
The first bomb blew up near the interior ministry’s administrative offices in Tripoli but caused no casualties, the sources said. Police found another car bomb at the site of the explosion that had not blown up.
Minutes later, a car bomb exploded near the former headquarters of a women’s police academy on Omar al-Mokhtar Avenue, which the defence ministry has been using for interrogations and detentions, the sources said, killing two people, both civilians, and wounding two.
The avenue, one of Tripoli’s main thoroughfares, was closed to traffic, a correspondent with the AFP news agency reported. Checkpoints were set up on other major streets in the city centre.
Tripoli’s security chief Colonel Mahmud al-Sherif confirmed that the explosions were made by remote-controlled car bombs, blaming loyalists of now slain dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
“They were two car bombs detonated by remote control,” Sherif said, adding that four people were also wounded.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blasts, the latest examples of the violence that has remained a problem in Libya despite the peaceful transfer of power to the new government after elections in July, the first in decades.
Gaddafi’s overthrow and death, after 42 years of eccentric personal rule, left a power vacuum that was filled by local militias and other armed groups that security forces have struggled to subdue, and sporadic shootings and explosions.
The buildings targeted by the bombers are in residential areas at the heart of the capital, Tripoli.
The blasts took place early in the morning as worshippers prepared for mass morning prayers marking Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim celebration that marks the end of the fasting month Ramadan.
Sporadic violence has remained a problem in Libya despite the peaceful transfer of power to the new government after elections in July, the first in decades following the overthrow last year of Gaddafi after 42 years in power.
The International Committee of the Red Cross announced that it was suspending its activities in Benghazi, Libya’s second biggest city, and Misrata after one of its compounds in Misrata was attacked with grenades and rockets.
The fate of seven Iranian relief workers, official guests of the Libyan Red Crescent Association, remains unknown almost three weeks after they were kidnapped by gunmen in the heart of Benghazi.