By Maha Ellawati and Ayman Amzein.
Benghazi, 13 May 2013:
A massive car bomb exploded in Benghazi this afternoon in a parking area . . .[restrict]outside Al-Jalaa hospital,
Three people died, according to the director of the hospital, Mohamed Bilaeid. He told the Libya Herald the body of one had been taken intact into the hospital and unrecognisable burnt body parts of two others had also been gathered. The two had been in the vehicle that blew up, officials say.
People at the site, however, say at least 12 people died. An entire family in another vehicle near the car bomb were said to be among the dead. A boy walking nearby was also reported to have been killed.
An official at the Interior Ministry has denied the higher figures, confirming the number at three. He told the Libya Herald said that six people had also been injured, including a woman and children.
Locals report as many as 30 having been wounded, almost most of them not seriously.
The bomb went off round 3 pm, sending up a pall of smoke and dust. It was visiting time at the hospital, and the car park was busy. The blast caused extensive damage to buildings, including the end section of the hospital, a restaurant, shops and computer training centres. Half an hour after the explosion, an apartment was still seen to be on fire.
More than a dozen cars were destroyed.
According to the ministry official, initial investigations indicated that home-made bomb was put under a car. “We are still investigating,” he said.
So far there is no indication who was responsible. “We cannot point fingers at anyone at the moment,” said the official. “Bomb experts at the site are gathering information. We will give a statement later.”
One theory is that the explosion was not a car bomb but explosive used by fishermen.
However, angry crowds gathered at the site, blaming Islamist militants from Derna and demanding they be crushed. Outside the city’s Tibsesti Hotel, an impromptu demonstration took place later, with also people blaming Chief of Staff Yousef Mangoush for the city’s lack of security and demanding he be sacked immediately. They also demanded Benghazi City Council members resign.
A website supposedly belonging to an Islamist group calling itself the Islamic Front of Derna Mujahideen Forces has claimed responsibility but at present little credence is given to it.
Swift condemnation of the attack came from Benghazi Local Council leader Mahmoud Abu Raziza, who was one of the first to visit the site, and from the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) which called it “criminal”. It called on all Libyans during “this critical phase” to unite against terrorism, attacks and efforts to destabilise the country. [/restrict]