Tripoli, 19 August (via Libya Herald)
At least two people have been killed and two more wounded when three car bombs exploded in Tripoli in the early hours of this morning, Sunday, in the first lethal attack of its kind since the ousting of the Qaddafi regime last year.
Sources report that the first bomb was detonated near the Ministry of Interior, causing no casualties. Minutes later, two further bombs exploded on Omar Mukhtar street, killing two people and wounding at least two more.
These second bombs were detonated close to a facility used by the Ministry of Defence for detentions and interrogations.
“The crowds overlooking the Omar Mukhtar explosion were huge”, said Saif Al-Naser, a business development manager who was driving past the area moments after the incident happened.
“I heard one explosion, I think the one outside the Ministry of Interior, but only realised something wasn’t right after getting stuck in heavy traffic. We asked what had happened, and that’s when we heard about the bombings”.
There have also been reports of two further bombs, which failed to explode. The first was encountered by police as they arrived at the site of the Interior Ministry blast, whilst the second was discovered on Al-Sreem street, close to the Immigration Ministry.
Checkpoints have now been set up and cars are being searched across central Tripoli, in particular adjacent to sensitive areas such as the Prime Minister’s office.
The identity of the perpetrators has not been established, but the timing of the blasts seemed deliberately calculated to coincide with the festival of Eid, which takes place today, to mark the end of the month of Ramadan.
This is the first time a car bomb has resulted in fatalities in Tripoli since the end of last year’s revolution.
On 4 August, a small car bomb reportedly exploded in downtown Tripoli, following a clash between two groups wanting to set up a pavement stall in Rasheed Street, near the Bourguiba Mosque, just south of the old city.
It was later established, however, that the vehicle in question, a Honda Civic, could have been damaged as part of a collateral blast from a gelatina bomb, a home-made device popular with local fisherman, which was thrown during the confrontation.