Libya declares three days’ mourning as bombing death toll rises to 41

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JOHANNESBURG, Jan 26 – Libyans are marking three days of mourning after the death toll from Tuesday night’s double car bombings in the eastern city of Benghazi rose to 41 people with over 80 people injured.

Amid wide national and international condemnation at the carnage Libya’s House of Representatives on Thursday announced the official period of mourning.

The update comes as the House of Representatives announces three days of official morning. The tragedy has received wide national and international condemnation.

The twin car bombs, which exploded outside a mosque in Benghazi initially claimed the lives of 27 people and wounded more than 30, was reported on Wednesday morning. But many more have subsequently succumbed to their wounds.

The timing of the bombs, as people left the Bayaat Al Radwan Mosque in a residential area, were aimed at causing mass casualties among the worshippers and first responders, Libyan officials said.

The first bomb exploded around 8.20 pm Tuesday in Benghazi’s Salmani neighbourhood and the second bomb went off half an hour later as residents and medics gathered to evacuate the wounded.

Salafist Ahmed Fitouri, a Libyan National Army (LNA) commander in the investigation department, was killed while Mahdi Al-Fallah, an officer in the intelligence division, managed to escape, according to officials at Benghazi’s Al-Jalaa hospital said.

Fadia Al Barghati, the information officer at Benghazi’s Al Jalaa hospital, said in  addition to those being treated at her hospital, some of the casualties were being treated at Benghazi Medical Centre.

It remains uncertain who is responsible for the bombings. However, earlier in the day shots were fired inside Al-Jalaa Hospital after an apparent disagreement between a patient and a hospital worker.

Minor injuries were reported but none of them from gunshot wounds. One doctor who works at the hospital said security infringements were common and she added that the incident was hardly a surprise.

Following the carnage the United Nations warned that attacking civilians was prohibited under international humanitarian law and constituted war crimes.

Libya has been wracked by chaos and violence since the overthrow and subsequent death of former leader, and dictator, Muammar Gaddafi during the Arab Spring in 2011.

Furthermore, the North African country is divided between competing governments and parliaments each backed by different militias and tribes.

Attacks and bombings are carried out on a regular basis in Benghazi as fighting between rival forces to former opposition member Khalifa Hifter leads the remnants of Libya’s National Army in the east against Islamist militants.

Contributing to the lawlessness and violence is the Islamic State (IS) which has taken root in parts of the country, despite having been driven out of the main cities.

– African News Agency (ANA)