by Compiled from Wire Services
Jan 08, 2016 12:00 am
A truckbomb exploded in the western Libyan city of Zliten near a police base, killing at least 60 policemen and wounding 200 on Thursday, officials said. No one claimed responsibility for the bombing, but a local DAESH affiliate has been trying to gain a foothold in Zliten from its central stronghold of Sirte. Rescue crews have only managed to extract 60 bodies out of the wreckage, a hospital spokesman, Moamar Kaddi, said. Libyan officials said they believed there might be dozens more dead. The base, where 400 police recruits were training, was used by the border police, a Zliten security official said. Border police foiled numerous human smuggling attempts off the coast of Zliten last year. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
A suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden truck used for carrying water at a police school in central Zliten, a coastal city about 170 kilometers (100 miles) east of the capital Tripoli, a local security source told AFP.
On December 17, under U.N. guidance, lawmakers from both sides and a number of independent political figures signed a deal for a unity government, but the agreement has yet to be implemented. It has so far failed to win unanimous backing from Libya's two rival parliaments, one based in the eastern city of Tobruk and the other in Tripoli. In a statement after Thursday's attack, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini urged Libyans to back the agreement. "Once again the Libyans are mourning victims of an attack," she said. "The people of Libya deserve peace and security and... they have a great opportunity to set aside their divisions and work together, united, against the terrorist threat facing their country." World powers fear Libya could descend further into chaos and become a stronghold of DAESH on Europe's doorstep. The group claimed a string of atrocities in Libya last year, including the January attack on a luxury hotel in Tripoli known for hosting foreign diplomats and Libyan officials, which killed nine people. A month later it released a video showing the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians, all but one of them Egyptians, that the militants said they captured in Libya in January. In a report to the U.N. Security Council in November, International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said that DAESH had been responsible for at least 27 car and suicide bombings in Libya in 2015. DAESH has in recent days launched a series of attacks on oil facilities in eastern Libya, pushing east from the group's coastal stronghold of Sirte. Officials have warned of crippling consequences for the country if the militants manage to seize control of Libya's oil resources. Oil is Libya's main natural resource, and the country sits on reserves estimated at 48 billion barrels, the largest in Africa. Calls have been growing for a possible foreign military intervention to bring stability to Libya and contain DAESH, which is reported to have at least 3,000 fighters in the country. Militants have also used Libya as a springboard for attacks across the border in Tunisia, including at the capital's National Bardo Museum and a beach resort, killing a total of 60 people, all but one of them foreign tourists.