February 9, 2018 / 1:39 PM / 4 months ago

Bombing at mosque in Libya's Benghazi kills two, wounds 55 - medics

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - Two people were killed and 55 wounded in a twin bombing inside a mosque in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on Friday, medics said.

People inspect the damage inside a mosque following a twin bombing in Benghazi, Libya February 9, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

Two weeks ago about 35 people died in another twin bombing at a mosque in Benghazi, the second-largest city in the country.

Friday’s explosions occurred during prayers at a small mosque located in the Majouri district, residents said. The devices, placed in bags at the mosque doors, appear to have been activated remotely using a mobile phone, a military source said.

Benghazi is controlled by the Libyan National Army (LNA), the dominant force in eastern Libya led by commander Khalifa Haftar.

The LNA was battling Islamists, including some linked to Islamic State and al Qaeda, as well as other opponents until late last year in the Mediterranean port city.

Haftar, a possible contender in national elections that could be held by the end of 2018, has built his reputation on delivering stability in Benghazi and beyond, promising to halt the anarchy that ensued after a NATO-backed uprising ended Muammar Gaddafi’s long rule nearly seven years ago.

Haftar launched his military campaign in Benghazi in May 2014 in response to a series of bombings and assassinations blamed on Islamist militants.

In past months there have been occasional, smaller scale bombings apparently targeting LNA allies or supporters.

Haftar does not recognize the U.N.-backed government based in the western capital Tripoli.

The U.N. has been trying to mediate for years, hoping elections can help stabilize Libya. But staging a vote is a major challenge in a country still split among military and political factions, and where rival governments have claimed authority since the result of a 2014 vote was disputed. Security in many parts of Libya is poor.

Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Hugh Lawson

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