At least 33 people were killed and dozens more were wounded in a double car bombing in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on Tuesday. The dead and wounded include civilians and members of the military.
The first detonation took place just outside a mosque in the al-Sleimani neighborhood, just as worshipers were leaving the building at the conclusion of evening prayers. Minutes later, a second vehicle bomb detonated on the other side of the street. According to local reports, the number of casualties is likely to continue to rise as emergency personnel continue to sift through the rubble.
In footage that has made its way onto social media, a number of people in civilian dress can be seen loading lifeless bodies into the bed of a police pickup truck. Other people can be seen sitting or standing around the scene, clearly dazed. Other bodies can be seen in the footage, though their condition is unclear. Thus far, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The delay between blasts was almost certainly an intentional tactic aimed at targeting those who descended upon the scene in hopes of aiding the injured and clearing away the dead following the first explosion. These tactics are often employed when targeting first responders specifically, and witness reports indicating that the second blast was significantly more powerful than the first would seem to support that. Although Libya is no stranger to bombings, the double bombing tactic has not been commonplace throughout years of turmoil following the 2011 overthrow of then-leader Muammar Gaddafi.
In the years since, a number of militias, as well as two rival parliaments, have jockeyed for power over the nation. The turmoil brought about by the civil conflict that has resulted has allowed the Islamic State to establish a foothold in the country. The Libyan National Army (LNA), under the control of Khalifa Haftar, claimed Benghazi in July, through sporadic clashes between rival parties continued through December of last year. The LNA directly opposes the internationally recognized formal government of the nation based in the Libya’s capital, Tripoli.
Benghazi became the focus of American attention following an attack on a U.S. Consulate and CIA Annex on September 11th, 2012. Three Americans were killed in the attack, including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, USFS officer Sean Smith and former Navy SEAL, CIA contractors Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.
Featured image courtesy of the Associated Press