Blast hits Libyan military intel office in Benghazi
BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - A strong explosion rocked the Libyan military intelligence offices in the eastern city of Benghazi on Wednesday but caused no casualties, the latest of several violent incidents to shock the birthplace of last year's revolt.
The blast occurred early on Wednesday when attackers threw an explosive device at the building from a passing car, security sources in Benghazi said. The explosion was so strong that it also shattered windows in nearby buildings on Dubai boulevard.
Adil Othmane, an army spokesman in Tripoli, confirmed the incident and said it was under investigation. He attributed the attack to the absence of security guards.
It was the third time the building had been attacked this year. For many residents of Benghazi, where the revolt that toppled long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi began, the building symbolizes the oppression they endured at the hands of his government.
"This building doesn't mean anything to me, it's just a dusty building ... Under Gaddafi, nobody could dare to get close to this building," 38-year-old Ibrahim Almosraty said, as he scrutinized the two-storey building's damaged facade.
Wednesday's blast was one of a number of attacks in Benghazi, where local groups have also staged protests demanding more powers for eastern Libya and objecting to what they say is the central authorities' neglect of the region.
The blast follows the killing on Sunday of Suleiman Bouzrida, a former military intelligence colonel who was shot in the head twice while walking to a mosque for early morning prayers, a security source said.
Bouzrida had a good reputation in the city because he joined the rebels in the early stages of the revolution and helped them gain control of the city, the source said.
Seven Iranian relief workers, official guests of the Libyan Red Crescent Association, were abducted on Tuesday in the heart of the city by an unknown armed group.
Last week, a hand grenade was thrown at the city's law courts, without causing casualties.
Police are struggling to identify suspects after the disparate attacks.
"This is a message to tell the world that Benghazi is not safe so that nobody comes here with projects ... or to sign contracts in Benghazi," said Emad Al-Khofaify, a jobless 30-year old. "Some people want Benghazi to pay the price for starting the revolution against Gaddafi."
(Reporting By Mohamed al-Tommy in Benghazi and Ali Shuaib in Tripoli, Writing by Souhail Karam, editing by Tim Pearce)