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Car bomb blasts buildings in Benghazi

By Jomana Karadsheh, CNN
updated 4:02 PM EDT, Sat October 26, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A car bomb damaged buildings in Benghazi
  • The Benghazi Local Council holds the government responsible for the violence
  • There has been an uptick in attacks

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- A car bomb detonated in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on Saturday, causing material damage but no casualties, local officials said.

The Benghazi Local Council said in a statement that the rigged car detonated in al-Majuri district outside a school used as a training center for local municipal elections.

The blast damaged vehicles and nearby buildings, according to the council.

The Benghazi Local Council said it holds the government and the Interior Ministry responsible for what it described as the "dire situation" that has "plagued" the city for a while with the lack of security highlighted by killings and bombings.

In recent weeks there has been an uptick in violence in the city, most notably in an assassination campaign that has primarily targeted members of the security forces, most of whom held positions under the former regime

Over the past week at least four senior members of the security forces, including the head of the country's military police, have been assassinated in Benghazi.

In a report released by Human Rights Watch in August, the watchdog reported the death of more than 50 people in what it said was a "broadening wave of political assassinations" focused mostly in the eastern cities of Derna and Benghazi.

But in its report, Human Rights Watch said the number of those killed "is probably higher."

No group has claimed responsibility for these attacks, and there has been public outrage in the city over what activists and residents say is a lack of accountability.

So far no one has been brought to justice in the escalating violence in Benghazi.

This week Libyans marked the second anniversary of the fall of the Moammar Gadhafi regime, but many Libyans are concerned about the deteriorating security and the increasing power of the hundreds of militias with different regional and political loyalties that continue to operate freely in the country.

Following last year's attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that left four Americans dead, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, and a series of attacks targeting foreign diplomatic missions, there has been concern about the growing presence and activity of Islamist militant groups, some with ties to al Qaeda, mostly in the eastern part of the country.

The weakness of Libya's central government and its inability to build an army and police force was underscored this month with the kidnapping of the country's prime minister by a militia force that seized him for a few hours before releasing him.

Amid the growing concerns about the situation in the north African nation, NATO on Monday said it had agreed to Libya's request for the alliance to provide advice on defense institution building.

NATO said it will create a "a small advisory team to conduct this effort."

Many Libyans welcomed the move, but said this was something Western powers should have done two years ago following their military campaign that led to the overthrow of the regime.

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