Car bomb wounds minister among 13 in Libya’s Benghazi

Libyan boys walk near the wreckage of a school bombed by NATO forces in this file photo. (Reuters)
Updated 21 January 2017
0

Car bomb wounds minister among 13 in Libya’s Benghazi

BENGHAZI/WASHINGTON: A car bomb exploded on Friday near a mosque in Libya’s second city of Benghazi, killing one person and wounding 13 people including a former interior minister, medical and security sources said.
Ashour Shwayel, who served as interior minister in the government of former Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, and his son were seriously hurt in the blast, said the spokeswoman of Al-Jala hospital, Fadia Al-Barghati.
A security source said the blast was caused by an explosive device placed inside a car parked near Abu Houraira mosque in the central Al-Majouri neighborhood of the eastern coastal city.
Benghazi was the cradle of the 2011 revolution that toppled and killed veteran dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
Libya has since fallen into chaos, with the UN-backed Government of National Accord based in Tripoli failing to assert its authority over the country. The GNA is opposed by a rival administration that is based in Libya’s far east and backed by military strongman Marshal Khalifa Haftar, whose forces are battling militants in Benghazi.
The powerful explosion outside the mosque after Friday prayers wrecked a number of cars and charred nearby buildings.
The attack came as Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) appears close to forcing Islamist-led opponents from their last holdouts after a military campaign that began in 2014.
It was not clear who staged Friday’s bombing, but the LNA’s rivals have carried out such attacks in Benghazi in the past. In November, a similar blast wounded a prominent tribal leader who had helped the LNA negotiate the takeover of several major oil ports.
Shuwail, who served as police chief in Benghazi after Libya’s 2011 uprising, was interior minister between 2012 and 2013.
Meanwhile, a US airstrike on Thursday targeting an Al-Qaeda training camp in Syria killed more than 100 militants, a US defense official said on Friday.
The strike took place just a day before the end of President Barack Obama’s presidency and a day after more than 80 Daesh militants were killed in US airstrikes in Libya.
The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the airstrike was primarily carried out by a B-52 bomber and dropped 14 munitions.
The official added that the strike against the camp took place in Idlib province, west of Aleppo, and there was a high level of confidence that there were no civilian casualties. A US-led coalition has been carrying out airstrikes and supporting local forces in Syria to oust Daesh militants. However, there is concern that the defeat of Daesh could open the door for Al-Qaeda to take territory in ungoverned parts of the country.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Friday that an airstrike killed more than 40 members of the militant group Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham in northwestern Syria. It was not immediately clear if this strike was the same one the defense official was referring to.


UN hopes for meeting on Syria constitution by late December

US Deputy United Nations Ambassador Jonathan Cohen, left, address the UN Security Council after a report from UN chief mediator for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, shown center in a live video broadcast, on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018 at UN headquarters. (AP)
Updated 21 November 2018
0

UN hopes for meeting on Syria constitution by late December

  • Staffan de Mistura said the UN welcomes “constructive and moderate suggestions” to change the list of the disputed 50 members

NEW YORK: The UN is still aiming to send invitations to 150 Syrians by mid-December to participate in a committee that would draft a new constitution for Syria, which is key to holding elections and ending the country’s civil war, a UN envoy said on Monday.
Staffan de Mistura, the UN special envoy for Syria, told the Security Council that the UN also aims to hold the committee’s first meeting before Dec. 31.
But de Mistura said the Syrian regime is objecting to 50 members of the committee representing civil society, experts, independents, tribal leaders and women that he was authorized to put together at a Russian-hosted Syrian peace conference in Sochi on Jan. 30.
Under the Sochi agreement, the committee is to comprise 150 members. There is already agreement on the 50-member delegation from the regime and the 50-member delegation from the opposition.
But de Mistura warned that if there is no agreement on the remaining members, the UN may have to conclude that it is not possible to form a “credible and inclusive” constitutional committee at this stage.
He said the UN welcomes “constructive and moderate suggestions” to change the list of the disputed 50 members. But de Mistura said they must “maintain the same spirit of credibility, balance and international legitimacy,” and he stressed that the list cannot be filled with political leaders who are already represented.
The UN envoy said that at his last briefing to the Security Council in December “it will be my duty to explain where we are on the constitutional committee, and leave a clean and clear ground to my successor regarding it.”
De Mistura was supposed to step down at the end of December but UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Monday he will be staying on “for a bit longer” to make sure there is no gap “at an extremely critical time in the Syria talks.”