Blasts hit government-held towns in Libya

Deaths reported in attacks in Tobruk and Labraq, under Prime Minister Thinni's control, as factional fighting continues.

    Forces loyal to renegade General Haftar have been battling various armed groups for months [Reuters]
    Forces loyal to renegade General Haftar have been battling various armed groups for months [Reuters]

    Two car bombs have exploded in eastern Libyan towns under the control of the internationally recognised government, killing an unknown number of people, officials say.

    Libya is in growing chaos as armed factions compete for power. One has taken over the capital Tripoli, setting up its own government and parliament and forcing the elected parliament and administration of Abdullah al-Thinni, the prime minister, to move east.

    Haftar's forces 'make gains' in Benghazi

    One car bomb went off in a busy street in the eastern city of Tobruk near the Egyptian border, where the elected parliament is based in a hotel.

    Another blast was near the military airport of Labraq, used by al-Thinni, who is now based in nearby Bayda, east of Benghazi.

    Sources told Al Jazeera that at least 13 people were killed in the two bombings, with more than 15 others injured.

    Reuters news agency quoted a security source as saying that up to four soldiers had been killed in the Labraq blast, but there was no confirmation.

    A third blast, reportedly also a car bomb, occurred in the main eastern city of Benghazi, where the Libyan army and Khalifa Haftar, a renegade former general, are battling armed groups.

    Closing ranks

    In October, al-Thinni joined ranks with Haftar in a military campaign that is trying to retake Benghazi from the fighters.

    The UN and major powers recognise the House of Representatives and Thinni's government.

    Libya's Supreme Court, still based in militia-controlled Tripoli, last week declared the House of Representatives unconstitutional.

    Between Tobruk and Bayda lies Derna, a hotspot for fighters and groups, where dozens of youths two weeks ago pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighting in Syria and Iraq.

    Unidentified aircraft carried out strikes on Derna on Wednesday, local residents said, but there were no details of targets or casualties.

    International attempts to mediate in the conflict have failed to produce a lasting ceasefire or bring the major armed groups to the table.

    Rivalries among factions who helped topple Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 have hit oil supplies, with fighters last week attacking the huge El Sharara oilfield and forcing its shutdown after guards fled the site, which can produce 340,000 barrels a day.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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