Suicide car bomb attack in Libya leaves 23 people dead
Published 02/08/2016 | 21:31
At least 23 people have died and dozens of others are injured after a suicide car bomb attack in the eastern city of Benghazi targeted Libyan troops.
Officials said the wounded were still arriving at a hospital in the aftermath of the bombing in the al-Qawarsha district on the outskirts of the city, Libya's second largest.
For the past two years, fighting has been raging in Benghazi between forces under the command of Brigadier General Khalifa Hifter and Islamic militias.
A coalition of Islamist militias called the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries, which includes the al-Qaida affiliate known as Ansar al-Shariah, claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement posted on its Twitter account.
The attack comes after the US started an air campaign on Monday in the central city of Sirte, the last bastion of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Libya.
The strikes followed a request made by the internationally-recognised government and presidency council in the capital Tripoli. The two executive bodies were formed after the United Nations (UN) brokered a deal among Libya's rival factions.
Libya has descended into chaos following the 2011 ouster and killing of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Since 2014, the country has been divided between two governments and parliaments, and a loose set of militias and tribes.
The UN-brokered government led by Fayez Serraj is trying to heal the rift but a crucial vote of confidence has yet to be obtained from the parliament.
The parliament in eastern Libya does not recognize the UN government and many in the east are angry that Mr Serraj's administration invited foreign military intervention without the eastern parliament's consent.
The US airstrikes are supporting the militias of Misrata, a city next to Sirte that is leading the anti IS-operation.
Misrata forces have been battling IS since May in fierce fighting that has killed and injured hundreds of militiamen.