Car bombs kill two men in Tripoli

 

At least two people were killed when three car bombs exploded near interior ministry and security buildings in the Libyan capital today, the first lethal attack of its kind since Muammar Gadafy's fall last year.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blasts, the latest examples of the violence that has remained a problem in Libya despite the peaceful transfer of power to the new government after elections in July, the first in decades.

Gadafy's overthrow and death, after 42 years of eccentric personal rule, left a power vacuum that was filled by local militias and other armed groups that security forces have struggled to subdue, and sporadic shootings and explosions.

Ambulances and firefighters rushed to the scenes of today's blasts, in residential areas in central Tripoli, and large numbers of police were deployed to cordon off the sites and remove the charred vehicles and other debris.

The first bomb blew up near the interior ministry's administrative offices in Tripoli but caused no casualties, security sources said. On arriving at the site, police found another car bomb that had not blown up.

Minutes later, two car bombs exploded near the former headquarters of a women's police academy, which the defence ministry has been using for interrogations and detentions, the sources said, killing two civilians and wounding three.

The blasts, which caused minor damage to the two buildings and shattered windows of nearby cars and buildings, took place early in the day as worshippers prepared for mass morning prayers marking Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim celebration that marks the end of the fasting month Ramadan.

"The (victims) were two young men in their 20s. They drove past the police academy precisely at the time of the explosion," a security source said.

There were no immediate clues as to who had planted the bombs and no claims of responsibility had been issued.

A surge of violence during Ramadan included a car bomb in Tripoli near the offices of the military police and an explosion at the empty former military intelligence offices in the eastern city of Benghazi, the cradle of the revolt against Gadafy.

The latest attacks will test the mettle of the national assembly, which made improving security a priority when it took power earlier this month from the National Transitional Council of opposition forces that toppled Gadafy.