A suicide truck bombing on a police training centre in Libya’s western city of Zliten killed at least 50 people Thursday, in one of the deadliest attacks yet to hit the strife-torn country.
A suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden truck used for carrying water at a police school in central Zliten, a coastal city about 170 kilometres (100 miles) east of the capital Tripoli, a local security source told AFP.
A witness in Zliten told AFP some 300 men, mainly coast guards, were inside the training compound at the time of the blast.
Health ministry spokesman Ammar Mohammed Ammar said 50 to 55 people had been killed and at least 100 wounded and that victims were being treated in several hospitals. Urgent calls were issued for blood donations.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack but the Islamic State jihadist group, which has been growing in power in Libya, has previously carried out many suicide bombings in the country.
A spokesman for the Zliten hospital, Moamer Kadi, told AFP it had received at least 40 bodies and was treating 70 wounded.
“We don’t have a clear idea of the total toll, other victims were taken to hospitals in Misrata and Tripoli,” he said.
The hospital in Misrata, about 55 kilometres (35 miles) east of Zliten, said it had received at least four bodies and was treating some 50 wounded.
The UN envoy to Libya, Martin Kobler, denounced the attack and called for national unity.
“I condemn in the strongest terms today’s deadly suicide attack in Zliten, call on all Libyans to urgently unite in fight against terrorism,” he wrote on Twitter.
Libya has been beset by chaos since the 2011 overthrow of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi and IS has been gaining influence.
The country has had rival administrations since August 2014, when an Islamist-backed militia alliance overran Tripoli, forcing the government to take refuge in the east.