Skip to main content

Deadly Benghazi blast appears to be accidental, Libyan official says

By Salma Abdelaziz and Arwa Damon, CNN
updated 7:16 PM EDT, Thu May 16, 2013
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
updated 11:28 AM EST, Tue December 30, 2014
With the discovery of debris from the AirAsia plane, investigators move closer to discovering what happened. What are the key questions, and what comes next?
updated 11:40 AM EST, Tue December 30, 2014
The growth of AirAsia has been a regional aviation success story. The reason behind the loss of Flight QZ 8501 will be key to whether passengers start to shun it, says Alan Khee-Jin Tan.
updated 5:45 AM EST, Fri February 7, 2014
They say there are no stupid questions -- but are there? How about, "Do you speak African?"
updated 9:39 AM EST, Wed December 31, 2014
The year of outrage also applies to China's Internet users in 2014.
updated 8:21 AM EDT, Sat August 16, 2014
One man swims among sharks without the protection of a cage to make studio-quality, intimate photos of the sea creatures.
updated 6:50 AM EST, Tue December 30, 2014
Using a technology that has been around for 130 years, a company called Pavegen hopes to create electricity from everyday human activities.
updated 12:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
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 and fatherof the World Wide Web Sir Tim Berners-Lee shares his insights.
updated 7:45 AM EST, Tue December 30, 2014
Gone are the days of grainy phone images with the resolution of a poor imitation Monet.
updated 4:00 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
A chilling video shows Boko Haram executing dozens of non-Muslims.
updated 12:45 PM EST, Mon December 29, 2014
"The year in pictures" treks across the globe, looking back on the events that shaped 2014.
updated 11:07 AM EST, Mon December 29, 2014
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