Skip to main content

Deadly Benghazi blast appears to be accidental, Libyan official says

By Salma Abdelaziz and Arwa Damon, CNN
May 16, 2013 -- Updated 2316 GMT (0716 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Libyan deputy prime minister says the blast seems like it wasn't deliberate
  • He says the explosives were like those used by fishermen for dynamite fishing
  • The potent blast near a Benghazi hospital left at least 3 people dead
  • Police and troops have since become more visible on Benghazi streets

(CNN) -- A potent, bloody blast this week near a Benghazi hospital is not believed to have been set off by terrorists, but rather was more likely an accident, a Libyan official said Thursday.

Deputy Prime Minister Awad al-Barassi told CNN that Monday's explosion near Al Jalaa hospital seems to be an accidental detonation, not a deliberate attack.

Benghazi Security Directorate spokesman Tareq Khraz had told state TV Libya Al Ahrar that the powerful explosion in the northeastern Libyan city left "children with shredded bodies and wounds toe to head," describing the scene as "horrific."

Khraz said at least 13 people died and more than 40 were wounded. But the hospital director, speaking on Ahrar TV, gave a lower toll -- three dead and 15 wounded -- the same number of fatalities that Interior Minister Ashur Shuail detailed Thursday.

According to al-Barassi, the horror originated from a vehicle that was carrying the type of explosives used by fishermen for so-called dynamite fishing.

The car was moving when it exploded, Shuail said.

The bodies of two of the three killed -- one of whom was 16-years-old -- were shredded, the minister added. Additionally, eight cars were destroyed and several nearby buildings were damaged, Khraz said.

The two men believed to be in the vehicle have not yet been identified.

Over the past 18 months, Benghazi, the birthplace of Libya's revolution that toppled longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi, has been the scene of attacks that mainly targeted security forces, Western diplomats and international organizations.

Gunmen attacked the U.S. diplomatic mission in the city on September 11, killing the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans. The Obama administration's handling of that incident has come under much criticism and scrutiny.

Doomed Libya ambassador: 'We're under attack'

Most of the attacks in Benghazi have been blamed on extremist Islamist groups that have established a foothold in eastern Libya, according to Western intelligence officials who have spoken to CNN.

After Monday's explosion, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan noted security forces have not been able to take strict measures following a string of attacks.

Nonetheless, police and Army soldiers have become more visible on the streets of Benghazi over the past few days. On Thursday, troops raided the city's black market -- which sells alcohol, drugs and weapons, among other items -- and cleared it out.

CNN's Greg Botelho and Jomana Karadsheh contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0254 GMT (1054 HKT)
A decade on from devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Red Cross' Matthias Schmale says that the lessons learned have made us safer.
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0024 GMT (0824 HKT)
As soon as word broke that "The Interview" will hit some theaters, celebrations erupted across social media -- including from the stars of the film.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 1844 GMT (0244 HKT)
Did a rogue hacker -- or the U.S. government -- cut the cord for the regime's Internet?
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0106 GMT (0906 HKT)
Monaco's newborn royals, Princess Gabriella and Crown Prince Jacques Honore Rainier, posed for their first official photos with their parents.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 1706 GMT (0106 HKT)
Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the world wide web, gives a speech on April 18, 2012 in Lyon, central France, during the World Wide Web 2012 international conference on April 18, 2012 in Lyon.
What's next for the Internet? Acclaimed scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee shares his insights.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 0822 GMT (1622 HKT)
The United States and North Korea have long been locked in a bitter cycle of escalating and deescalating tensions. But the current cyber conflict may be especially hard to predict.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 2100 GMT (0500 HKT)
A chilling video shows Boko Haram executing dozens of non-Muslims.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1134 GMT (1934 HKT)
New planes, new flight tests ... but will we get cheaper airfares?
December 21, 2014 -- Updated 1746 GMT (0146 HKT)
The killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 0251 GMT (1051 HKT)
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it has never looked better.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 1621 GMT (0021 HKT)
Unicef has warned that more than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1701 GMT (0101 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT