By Ayman al-Warfalli
Several car bombs exploded at a Libyan army academy in the eastern city of Benghazi on Monday, killing at least eight people and wounding more than a dozen, hospital sources and a security official said.
Instability in the eastern city is just part of the struggle a weak central government faces in controlling armed groups, militias and brigades of former rebels who once battled Muammar Gaddafi and now refuse to disarm.
A first bomb exploded at the academy’s front gate as people were leaving a graduation ceremony, security officials said. One or two other bombs exploded almost at the same time, wounding at least 13 persons.
No group claimed responsibility for the bombing in Benghazi, where Libyan armed forces have been battling militants from hardline Islamist groups such as Ansar al Sharia, listed as a foreign terrorist organisation by Washington.
Most countries have closed their consulates in Benghazi and some foreign airlines have stopped flying there since the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed in an Islamist militant attack in September 2012.
Unknown gunmen killed a French citizen earlier this month, while police found seven Egyptian Christians shot dead execution-style on a beach outside Benghazi, home to several oil firms. No one has claimed responsibility for that killing.
An American schoolteacher was also killed by gunmen in December. Western diplomats are concerned the violence in Benghazi will spill over to the capital, Tripoli.