By Ulf Laessing
Car bombs exploded in eastern Libyan towns under the control of the internationally-recognized government on Wednesday, wounding at least 20 people, officials said.
Libya is in growing chaos as armed factions compete for power. One has taken over the capital Tripoli, setting up its own government and parliament and forcing the elected parliament and administration of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni to move east.
One car bomb went off in a busy street in the eastern city of Tobruk near the Egyptian border, where the elected parliament is based in a hotel.
“Twenty people have been wounded,” said Saleh Hashem, a lawmaker. “Nobody was killed.”
Another blast was near the military airport of Labraq, used by al-Thinni, now based in nearby Bayda east of Benghazi.
A security source said up to four soldiers had been killed in the Labraq blast, but there was no confirmation.
Another security source said two people had been killed in the Tobruk bombing, but other officials said there were only wounded.
A third car bomb exploded in the main eastern city of Benghazi, where the Libyan army and a renegade former general are fighting Islamists, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.
Between Tobruk and Bayda lies Derna, a hotspot for radical Islamists, where dozens of youths two weeks ago pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of Islamic State militants fighting in Syria and Iraq.
Unidentified aircraft carried out strikes on Derna on Wednesday, local residents said. There were no details of targets or casualties.
International attempts to mediate in the conflict have failed to produce a holding ceasefire or bring the major armed groups to the table.
Rivalries among factions who helped topple Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 have hit oil supplies, with gunmen last week attacking the huge El Sharara oilfield and forcing its shutdown after guards fled the site, which can produce 340,000 barrels a day.
The U.N. and major powers recognise the House of Representatives and Thinni’s government. But Libya’s Supreme Court, still based in Tripoli, last week declared last week the House of Representatives unconstitutional.
A U.N. special envoy held talks on Tuesday for the first time with the head of the self-declared parliament in Tripoli as part of efforts to find a negotiated solution to the North African country’s deepening conflict.