At least 7 dead in Benghazi attack

BENGHAZI, LIBYA (AFP) - At least seven people were killed and around twenty others injured late on Thursday (May 24) in a car bomb attack in the centre 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 dictator Muammar Gaddafi, 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 Islamists 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 United Nations-backed unity government in the western capital Tripoli has struggled to assert its authority nationwide.