Explosion hits eastern Libyan city causing casualties

Derna, which has been outside the realm of government control since 2012, is currently controlled by the Islamic Youth Council. (File photo: AFP)

At least 20 people were wounded by an explosion that has gone off in the eastern Libyan city of Tobruk, where the country's elected parliament is based, officials said.  

"The explosion took place away from where parliament sits," Saleh Hashem, a lawmaker , told Reuters. "20 people have been wounded, nobody got killed," he added.         

A security source said two people had been killed but other officials said there were only wounded. A Libyan army spokesman said the explosion was caused by two car bombs that exploded in front of an oil institute early on Wednesday, reported the Associated Press.  

Mohammed Hegazi the attack meant to "terrorize" state institutions and the parliament, as well as deliver a "we are here" message from militants, AP reported.  

Hegazi said the blasts have the hallmarks of extremists from the eastern city of Derna who have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria group.                   

Libya's elected parliament was forced to relocate to the far-eastern city of Tobruk after Islamist-allied militias took over the country's capital, Tripoli, and the second-largest city of Benghazi. 

Libyan activists 'beheaded' in Derna

Libyan fighter jets have reportedly begun striking the eastern city of Derna to target armed militias competing to take control of the city, Al Arabiya's correpsodent reported Wednesday.

The news comes after the bodies of three young activists were found beheaded by Derna residents on Tuesday, where several militant groups are competing to take control of the city, a BBC report said Tuesday.

Residents in Derna found the bodies on Tuesday after the activists had been kidnapped earlier this month.

The three, Siraj Ghatish, Mohamed Battu and Mohamed al-Mesmari, were low-prolife rights activists who mostly shared their views via social media pages, a BBC correspondent said.

Derna, which has been outside the realm of government control since 2012, is currently controlled by the Islamic Youth Council, a branch of the al-Qaeda-inspired Ansar al-Sharia.

The council has reportedly set up an Islamic tribunal and Islamic police, according to video footage that surfaced last month.

It has been reported that Islamist militias in Derna have recently pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The BBC correspondent said it seems that there are three main militant groups in Derna, who vary in their degrees of extremism and are all competing to take over the city.

None of these groups have claimed responsibility for the executions so far, the reporter said.
 

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:45 - GMT 06:45
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