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IS Militants Claim Deadly Bombings in Libya

  • VOA News

Car bombs exploded in Libya's eastern town of Qubba, Feb. 20, 2015.

Car bombs exploded in Libya's eastern town of Qubba, Feb. 20, 2015.

Islamic State militants in Libya have claimed responsibility for Friday's deadly car bombings in the country's east.

Libyan officials say at least 40 people were killed and dozens more wounded in at least three suicide bombings in the town of Qubba.

The U.S.-based terrorism monitor, SITE Intelligence Group, said the Barqah Province division of IS claimed the attacks and identified the bombers as Libyan and Saudi.

The town of Qubba is near Islamist strongholds but is controlled by Libya's internationally-recognized government.

Officials said one of the car bombs went off at a gas station near a security building in Qubba. They said there was a separate attack on the security facility and another that targeted the home of the speaker of Libya's parliament. Parliament speaker Aquila Saleh was away at the time of the attack.

Brutal beheading

A girl holds up a poster with pictures of the 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians beheaded by Islamic State in Libya, as they gather in a gesture to show their solidarity, in front of the Egyptian embassy in Amman, February 17, 2015.

A girl holds up a poster with pictures of the 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians beheaded by Islamic State in Libya, as they gather in a gesture to show their solidarity, in front of the Egyptian embassy in Amman, February 17, 2015.

There were conflicting reports about precisely where the attacks took place.

Officials said one of the car bombs went off at a gas station near a security building in Qubba. Other officials described a separate attack on the security facility and another that targeted the home of the speaker of Libya's parliament.

The country has seen escalating violence, as fighters loyal to the Islamic State group attempt to gain more territory.

Libya is divided between militias and two parallel governments, leaving the country in a persistent state of instability following the 2011 ouster of Moammar Gadhafi.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki condemned Friday's attacks and said they underscore the need for all Libyan parities to participate in U.N.-led talks to form a national unity government.

U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed those comments during a White House meeting Friday with Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed al-Dayri.

"She urged the swift formation of a national unity government that can partner with the international community to fight terrorist groups and conclude Libya’s transition process, including the completion of a new constitution and holding elections for a new government under that constitution," said NSC Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan.

International concern was heightened earlier this week after Islamist fighters in Libya publicized the brutal beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians. Cairo responded with airstrikes against militant targets on Monday.

Jordan circulated a draft U.N. Security Council resolution late Wednesday that would lift an arms embargo against the Libyan government, work toward halting the flow of weapons to militants and push for Libya's internationally recognized government to return to the capital in Tripoli.

Libyan Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Dairi on Wednesday stressed Libya is not asking for international military intervention.

Libya has been under an arms embargo since 2011. The internationally recognized government now operating out of Tobruk has been able to petition a U.N. committee to ask that certain weapons sales be approved, but there remain fears that weapons could end up in the hands of the many militant groups in Libya if the embargo is lifted.

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