TRIPOLI - At least 65 people reportedly have been killed by a truck bomb targeting a police training centre in the western Libyan city of Zliten.
Media in Libya said that the attack struck the al-Jahfal training camp. The training centre had been a military base during the rule of ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Libya has been hit by instability since Gaddafi’s overthrow in 2011, and there is concern Islamic State (IS) militants are gaining a foothold in the country and it also has been run by two governments – only one of which is recognised by the international community.
A spokesman for the ministry of health of the rival government based in the capital – Tripoli – said that 65 people were killed and more than a hundred people were injured in the blast, which was reportedly heard 60 kilometres (40 miles) away in Misrata.
Other news agencies had put the death toll at 50. It was being reported that a water truck rigged with explosives which caused the bombing.
The ministry had declared a state of emergency and called on all hospitals in Tripoli, 160 kilometres (100 miles) to the west of bombing site, to prepare to take in casualties. Residents in Zliten said that dozens of people were being transferred to Tripoli, as the hospital in Zliten was struggling to cope with the number of people injured.
Urgent calls for blood donations were being made to Zliten residents, the Lana news agency reported. Another international news agency reported that no-one had claimed responsibility for the latest attack, but there had been reports in recent months that IS affiliates were operating in that area.
The UN Special Representative to Libya Martin Kobler said that the blast was a suicide attack.
Libyan media said that hundreds of recruits were outside performing morning exercises when the centre was targeted. Libya’s al-Naba television network quoted the ministry of health of the rival rebel-led government as saying that a state of emergency had been declared, allowing hospitals in Tripoli and Misrata to receive the wounded.
In December, the country’s rival politicians signed a UN-brokered deal to form a unity government, but that had not yet been implemented.