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

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.


Israeli PM: Palestinians in Jordan Valley won’t be citizens

Updated 36 min 53 sec ago

Israeli PM: Palestinians in Jordan Valley won’t be citizens

  • Netanyahu has vowed to press ahead with plans to annex the Jordan Valley

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that Palestinians living in the Jordan Valley will remain in what he described as an “enclave” after Israel annexes the territory and will not be granted Israeli citizenship.
Netanyahu has vowed to press ahead with plans to annex the Jordan Valley and Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, in line with President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan, a process that could begin as early as July 1.
The annexation of the Jordan Valley and the far-flung settlements would make it virtually impossible to create a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel, which is still widely seen as the only way to resolve the decades-old conflict.
In an interview with the Israel Hayom newspaper, Netanyahu said Palestinians in the Jordan Valley, including residents of the city of Jericho, would remain under limited Palestinian self-rule, with Israel having overall security control.
“They will remain a Palestinian enclave,” he said. “You’re not annexing Jericho. There’s a cluster or two. You don’t need to apply sovereignty over them. They will remain Palestinian subjects, if you will. But security control also applies to these places.”
Palestinians in the West Bank have lived under Israeli military rule since the 1967 war, when Israel captured the territory, along with east Jerusalem and Gaza. The Palestinians want all three territories to form their future state.
The Trump plan would grant the Palestinians limited statehood over scattered enclaves surrounded by Israel if they meet a long list of conditions. Israel has embraced the plan, while the Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the West Bank, has angrily rejected it and cut ties with the US and Israel.
Netanyahu said that if the Palestinians accept all the conditions in the plan, including Israel maintaining overall security control, “then they will have an entity of their own that President Trump defines as a state.”
Under a coalition agreement reached last month, Netanyahu can bring his annexation plans before the government as early as July 1.
The Palestinian Authority has said it is no longer bound by any agreements signed with Israel and the US, and says it has cut off security coordination with Israel. Neighboring Jordan, a close Western ally and one of only two Arab states to have made peace with Israel, has warned of a “massive conflict” if Israel proceeds with annexation.