Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Libya: Violence in Benghazi continues

A member of the Libyan army guards the streets following yesterday's clashes in Benghazi November 26, 2013. REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori

It has been another week of violence in Benghazi with state forces clearly no closer to curbing the campaign of assassinations and attacks that have blighted the city for months. As the spokesperson of the Joint Security Chamber in Benghazi, Ibrahim Al-Sharaf, described, “the security situation in Benghazi is still tense… The assassinations are continuing.”

On 7 February the imam of the Al-Ansari mosque in the Hadaiq area, Sheikh Atif Al-Madouli, was shot dead by gunmen as he was returning from Asr prayers. Al-Madouli is believed to have worked for the external intelligence services under the former regime.

Meanwhile, there have been a series of explosions targeting civilian locations. On 5 February, a gunman threw a grenade into the playground of a private primary school in Benghazi’s Tabalino district. The attack occurred at around 11.00 when the school playground was full. Six children were injured in the attack.

Then, on 9 February, two bombs exploded at dawn in the city. One exploded at the Arous Al-Bahr (Bride of the Sea) restaurant on the corniche. It appears that bags full of explosives had been planted all around the restaurant and destroyed it completely. The other blast occurred in Ghazir Street and was the result of a booby trapped car. It is unclear who was behind these attacks, and why these particular targets were selected, but restaurants are often associated in the minds of Islamist militants as places of vice and decadence.

It was also reported that a booby trapped car was found on the same day behind the headquarters of the Special Forces in Benghazi. Security forces are reported to have discovered 350 kilos of TNT at the site.
These attacks were followed by another explosion at dawn on 10 February in a house in the Al-Laithi district. It is currently being reported that two people were killed in the blast but this explosion actually appears to have been the result of badly stored weapons and ammunition.

For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focus and Libya Politics & Security.

© 2014 Menas Associates

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