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Bomb hits Libya police station in Benghazi

Saturday - 4/27/2013, 10:00am  ET

ESAM MOHAMED
Associated Press

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) -- An explosion hit a police station in Libya's eastern city of Benghazi on Saturday, a day after militants killed a pro-government militiaman in an attack further to the east, in the latest violence to hit the country since the government launched a crackdown on armed groups.

The attacks, announced by officials, came less than a week after a car bomb exploded outside the French Embassy in Tripoli, wounding three people and partially setting the building on fire. The bombing was the worst attack on a diplomatic mission in the North African country since the U.S. ambassador was killed last year.

No group claimed responsibility for the weekend violence, which adds to pressure on Libya's new leaders to rein in the lawlessness that has gripped the country since 2011, when rebels ousted Moammar Gadhafi in a civil war and then refused to lay down their arms.

The explosion at Barka police station came early in the morning, destroying the facade but leaving no causalities, the officials said. It was the second bombing at the site this year.

Benghazi has witnessed a string of assassinations, with some 40 security and military officials killed by unknown assailants. Western countries warned their nationals to evacuate, citing security threats, after January's hostage crisis in Algeria that left at least 37 hostages and 29 militants dead.

Signs of infighting among militias themselves are also on the rise.

On Friday, a militiaman was killed when armed men attacked the headquarters of his pro-government group, Uqba ibn Nafi, in the eastern city of Darnah. The area is largely controlled by radical Islamist militias, officials said. One of Darnah's most dangerous militia groups is Ansar al-Shariah, blamed for the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi on Sept. 11 which killed four Americans including the U.S. Ambassador.

The government relies on militiamen in maintaining security in the absence of unified police or military but some of the most powerful militias enjoy more support from the government than others.

Meanwhile, a five-star hotel in Tripoli evacuated its staff and guests after receiving a bomb threat on Friday, disrupting a film festival.

Officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of they were not authorized to speak to the press.


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