Blast hits Libya's foreign ministry in Benghazi
Explosion occurs 1 year after al-Qaeda linked militants stormed U.S. Consulate in city
A powerful car bomb exploded Wednesday near Libya's foreign ministry building in the heart of the eastern coastal city of Benghazi, security officials said, one year after an attack there killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.
The early morning blast targeted a building that housed the U.S. Consulate during the rule of King Idris, whom former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi overthrew in a 1969 bloodless coup. The explosion caused no serious casualties, though several passersby were slightly wounded, officials said.
The bomb blew out a side wall of the building, leaving desks, filing cabinets and computers strewn among the concrete rubble. It also damaged the Benghazi branch of the Libyan Central Bank along a major thoroughfare in the city.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. The security officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to journalists.
Gadhafi was killed after an eight-month uprising that descended into a civil war in 2011. Since then, successive Libyan interim governments have failed to impose law and order. There are several unruly militia forces, formed to fight Gadhafi, who have huge stockpiles of sophisticated weaponry and the groups now threaten Libya's nascent democracy.
Car bombs and drive-by shootings since the civil war have killed security officials in Benghazi, the birthplace of the uprising.
The car bombing comes exactly one year after al-Qaeda-linked militants stormed the U.S. mission in Benghazi and a nearby U.S. building, killing U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Both Wednesday's bombing and last year's attack on the American consulate took place on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The attack sparked a wave of criticism toward U.S. President Barack Obama and his administration for its handling of the attack and its aftermath. The administration closed 19 diplomatic posts across the Muslim world for almost a week last month out of caution over a possible al-Qaeda strike — likely in response to the Benghazi criticism.