Car bomb attack in Benghazi leaves seven dead, 20 wounded

A historic building that was destroyed during a three-year conflict is seen in Benghazi, Libya, on February 28, 2018. A car bomb explodsion on a busy street in the center of Benghazi on Thursday night killed at least seven people. (REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori/File Photo)
Updated 25 May 2018
0

Car bomb attack in Benghazi leaves seven dead, 20 wounded

  • The bomb exploded behind the Tibesti hotel, the city’s biggest, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, on a street where people were taking a stroll after a day of fasting until sunset in the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.
  • Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city, is controlled by the Libyan National Army (LNA), the dominant force in eastern Libya led by commander Khalifa Haftar.

BENGHAZI: At least seven people were killed and around 20 others injured late Thursday in a car bomb attack in the center of Benghazi in eastern Libya, a local security official told AFP.
The bomb exploded close to the Tibesti hotel on a busy road where many people go to celebrate during the month of Ramadan, the official said, adding that the victims were civilians.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack but the Libyan official blamed the assault on “terrorist sleeper cells who want to send a message that Benghazi is not safe.”
Libya has been rocked by chaos since a 2011 uprising which toppled and killed Muammar Qaddafi, with two rival authorities and multiple militias vying for control of the oil-rich country.
Military strongman Khalifa Haftar in July announced the “total liberation” of Benghazi, three years after his forces launched a military operation to seize the city from militants who had made it a stronghold following the revolution.
But clashes and attacks in the city have continued, including against diplomatic facilities and security forces.
Almost 40 people were killed following a double car bomb attack in front of a mosque in January. In February, another attack left one person dead and nearly 150 wounded, also in front of a mosque Haftar supports a Parliament based in the far east of Libya, while a rival UN-backed unity government in the western capital Tripoli has struggled to assert its authority outside the west of the country.
Earlier this month Haftar returned to Benghazi after a two-week stint in a Paris hospital to launch a new anti-militant offensive.
Presenting himself as the scourge of militancy, he announced the start of a military campaign to retake the eastern city of Derna from jihadists.
The city is the only part of eastern Libya to remain out of the control of Haftar’s Libyan National Army, which has the backing of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
 


Russia, Iran, Turkey seeking deal on new Syria constitution body

Updated 49 min 47 sec ago
0

Russia, Iran, Turkey seeking deal on new Syria constitution body

  • Foreign ministers near agreement on the composition of a Syrian constitutional committee
  • UN Special Envoy has tried since January to clinch agreement on the identity of 150 members

GENEVA: Russia, Iran and Turkey are nearing agreement on the composition of a Syria committee that could pave the way for the drafting of a new constitution and for elections after a devastating civil war, diplomats said on Tuesday.
The foreign ministers of the three nations, who support opposing sides in Syria’s nearly eight-year-old conflict, began talks in Geneva to seal their joint proposal and seek the United Nations’ blessing for it, they added.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, asked on arrival whether he expected to reach an agreement with counterparts Sergei Lavrov of Russia and Mevlut Cavusoglu of Turkey, told reporters: “I hope so.”
Staffan de Mistura, UN Special Envoy for Syria who steps down on Dec. 31, has tried since January to clinch agreement on the identity of 150 members of a new constitutional committee to revitalize a stalled peace process.
President Bashar Assad’s government and the opposition fighting to topple him have each submitted a list of 50 names. But Russia, Iran and Turkey have haggled over the final 50 members from civil society and “independent” backgrounds, diplomats say.
“The three countries are coming with a proposal for the third list, which has been the heart of the problem,” one diplomat following the negotiations closely told Reuters.
Turkey and other nations would consider working with Assad if he won a democratic election, Cavusoglu said on Sunday.
Turkey supports rebels who control part of northwest Syria. A year ago, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan described Assad as a terrorist and said it was impossible for Syrian peacemaking efforts to continue with him.
Assad, whose forces have reclaimed most of Syria with Russian and Iranian support apart from Idlib, a northwestern province, has clung to power throughout the conflict and is widely seen as being loath to yield power after it ends.
The Damascus government has previously brushed off UN-led efforts to set up a constitutional committee.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Moualem, in comments reported by state media on Monday, said it was “early to talk about” the constitutional committee starting work. He blamed attempts at “interference” by Western states for the hold-up in its formation, in addituon to “obstacles” laid by Turkey.
Syrian authorities have only ever signalled a readiness for “amendments” to the existing constitution and also said these must be put to a referendum.
De Mistura said at the weekend that the constitutional committee could be a starting point for political progress.
“It does touch, for instance, on presidential powers, it could and should be touching on how elections are done, on division of power, in other words a big issue,” he said.