The chief of staff of renegade General Khalifa Haftar’s army in Libya has survived an assassination attempt outside the eastern city of Benghazi, according to a military source.
General Abdel-Razeq Nathouri and his convoy were heading to a military base in al-Marj on Wednesday when they were targeted by a car bombing.
A spokesman for Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) said in a statement on Twitter that “Nathouri survived an assassination attempt when a car bomb was left on the street and exploded when his motorcade passed near it. He was not hurt.”
Nathouri is believed to be one of the two contenders in line to replace Haftar, who is currently receiving medical treatment in France following reports of a stroke.
Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud Abdelwahed, reporting from the capital, Tripoli, said that one civilian was killed and another one was wounded in the bombing.
“According to sources on the ground in Benghazi, the forces accompanying Nathouri started shooting in the air to disperse people because they were afraid that another attack might happen and target people, as it happened a few months ago.”
In January, a double car bombing in Benghazi killed at least 35 people and left more than 50 others wounded. Ahmed al-Fituri, chief of a special investigation unit attached to the general command of east Libyan security forces, was among the casualties.
Forces loyal to Haftar took control of Benghazi in 2017, after a three-year campaign against rival armed groups.
The battles have left large swaths of the port city in ruins.
Wednesday’s attack comes amid weeks of speculation over Haftar’s health.
Al Jazeera’s Abdelwahed said that Haftar’s camp has recently been suffering from deep divisions and disputes.
“Now this [attack] is an indication of the chaos and power vacuum that has followed the absence of Haftar, and it seems there is no stability.”