Benghazi, 22 May:
Unknown terrorists launched two attacks in Benghazi early this morning.
The Benghazi offices of the International Committee of the Red . . .[restrict]Cross (ICRC) were attacked first. Two rocket-propelled grenades were fired at it around 3am, although only one hit the building, damaging one of the outer walls. No one was injured as the building was empty at the time.
The building, acts as the “embassy” of the ICRC in Libya and normally house as many as 35 foreign and local staff staff.
The sound of the explosion startled residents in the area. “I jumped from my bed after I heard a massive explosion,” said Abdulmenem Benali whose home is just 150 metres from the ICRC building. “I thought it was inside my house. It was followed by a second explosion. We went out to see what happened, but everything was then very quite and nothing was moving at all. So we returned home and went to bed again. Then at around 5.30 am we heard a third explosion. But it was far away. Later we learned that was at the Sahara Bank, two kilometres from my home.”
The third attack, at the Sahara Bank’s Fuwaihat branch, was also by a rocket-propelled grenade.
There were no injuries in the bank attack, according to Miloud Tatib of the Benghazi Supreme Security Committee (SSC), but there were two security guards in the building at the time. The front of the building was damaged, he said.
It is suspected that the same assailants were involved in both attacks. They came just hours after the results of the Benghazi local elections were announced but it is not known if they are linked.
The attacks have stunned local people. “Who did them?” asked Benali. “Why after Benghazi’s big night of celebration after the elections?”
Fingers have already been pointed variously at Islamists, supporters of federalism and counter-revolutionaries, although the true identities of the assailants remains unknown.
There have been other small scale attacks in the city in recent months. A week ago, a hand grenade was thrown at the Benghazi Military Building. On 27 April, three bombs exploded at Benghazi’s temporary High Court building, wounding four people, and on 10 April, a small bomb was thrown at a convoy carrying the head of the United Nations mission to Libya.