The official stated that the explosion had “completely destroyed a restaurant and inflicted casualties in nearby buildings.” He also stated that the figure was a ‘preliminary toll,’ and that the total number of casualties could increase.
Libya’s eastern city—which played an instrumental role in the uprising that removed Muammar Gaddafi from his 42-year rule—has suffered a recent increase of violence and instability, as the country continues its intense transitional period.
Two bombs were detonated outside police stations on Sunday, although no casualties were sustained. An official explained to reporters that the attacks had targeted Al-Gwarcha and Al-Uruba police stations, and both buildings were lightly damaged.
Similar attacks took place two days earlier, on Friday, when “unknown individuals threw explosive devices at the police stations in Ras Obeida and Al-Madina,” according to an official who spoke anonymously with the AFP news agency.
Speaking to the Reuters news agency in response to last week’s attacks, Osama Al-Sharif, Benghazi’s local council spokesman, said: “We are not satisfied with the performance of the Ministry of Interior … and especially with the leadership of Benghazi’s police.”
Following Monday’s explosion, civilians came to the scene to protest against the recent violence and demonstrate their discontent with security services.
“This is the flesh of our sons, this is what the militias have given us,” one protester told Reuters. “All we need here are the police and the army.”
There are also international concerns over the country’s stability, and the US State Department updated its travel warning on Thursday, saying that it “strongly advises against all but essential travel to Tripoli, and all travel to Benghazi.”
No statements claiming responsibility for the latest attack have been released so far, though western diplomats have recently warned that extremists expelled from Mali were making their way north into Libya, following a bomb attack on the French embassy in Tripoli last month.