TRIPOLI — A deadly car bomb exploded on Monday near a hospital in a busy area packed with civilians in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, destroying part of the facility, officials said.
Officials gave conflicting casualty figures, with death tolls ranging from three to 10 in the chaotic aftermath of the attack.
Benghazi, which was the birthplace of the revolution that led to the ouster of dictator Moammar Gadhafi, has suffered a series of assassinations and other attacks, including the Sept. 11 assaults on the U.S. diplomatic mission that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
The oil-rich North African nation is still largely dominated by militias, many including fighters who battled Gadhafi's forces during the 2011 civil war, and many attacks are blamed on them as infighting is rampant in the battle for control.
But witnesses and analysts said the explosion stood out because it struck during the day in a crowded area, putting civilians at risk.
“The bombing is significant in that it is the first that targets civilians,” Frederic Wehrey of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said in an email.
The blast took place on Beirut Street, a residential and shopping area in Libya's second-largest city and quickly drew protesters to the streets to call for stronger security measures. Other vehicles on the street were destroyed, and the windows of nearby buildings were shattered.
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