UN: Car bomb kills 3 UN staff outside mall in Libya
BENGHZI, Libya – A bomb-laden vehicle exploded Saturday outside a shopping mall in Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi, killing at least three U.N. staff members, a spokesman for the United Nations secretary-general said. The attack came even as the country’s warring sides said they accepted a cease-fire proposed by the U.N. aimed at halting combat in the capital Tripoli during an upcoming Muslim holiday.
Health officials said the blast took place outside Arkan Mall in the Hawari neighborhood, where people were gathering for shopping a day before the Eid al-Adha holiday begins. The Benghazi municipal council said the attack targeted a convoy for the U.N. Support Mission in Libya.
The site of the attack is close to offices of the mission in Libya. Two of the dead hailed from Libya and Fuji, and the blast wounded nine people, according to health officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.
Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, said in a statement that three U.N. workers were among the wounded.
“The Secretary-General extends his deepest condolences to the bereaved families and wishes a swift recovery to all the injured. He calls on the Libyan authorities to spare no effort in identifying and swiftly bringing to justice the perpetrators of this attack,” Dujarric said.
He also said the secretary-general urged “all parties to respect the humanitarian truce during Eid al Adha and return to the negotiating table to pursue the peaceful future the people of Libya deserve.”
The U.N. special envoy for Libya, Ghassan Salame, condemned what he called a “cowardly attack.”
“This attack will not discourage us, nor will it prevent us from carrying on with our duties to bring about peace, stability and prosperity to Libya and its people,” he said in a statement.
Salame said the commitment of the parties of the U.N.-proposed cease-fire in Tripoli “sends an irrevocable message that the blood of Libyans, and UN staff, … was not shed in vain in this heinous explosion.”
Footage circulated online shows what appears to be burnt U.N.-owned vehicles, as thick smoke bellows into the sky.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which came just a month after two bomb-laden vehicles went off in Benghazi, the stronghold for the self-styled Libyan National Army. The July attack killed at least four people and wounded 33 others.
The warring sides, meanwhile, said they accepted a multi-day truce for the Eid holiday which begins Sunday.
The Tripoli-based government on Friday responded positively to the proposal, while LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mosmari told a news conference in the eastern city of Benghazi on Saturday that they would abide by the cease-fire from Saturday to Monday. /gsg
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