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Number 2 Military Leader in Eastern Libya Survives Car Bomb Attack

People inspect the site after a car bomb hit the convoy of Abdel-Razeq Nathouri, the chief of staff of the eastern Libyan military, outside Benghazi, Libya, April 18, 2018.

The second-in-command of eastern Libyan military forces says he survived a car-bomb attack against his motorcade in the eastern capital of Benghazi. The attack comes amid uncertainty about the health of the top eastern Libya commander, General Khalifa Hafter

Saudi news channel al-Ikhbariya showed video of the site of the attack against General Abdel Razzaq Nazouri's vehicle in Benghazi

Nazouri, the number two commander for the eastern Libya forces, told Arab media he escaped the car-bomb unscathed and there were no casualties. He added his troops continue military operations against militants in the eastern coastal city of Derna.

Speculation continues to swirl over the fate of Nazouri's boss, Army Commander General Khalifa Hafter, who is reportedly in a Paris hospital.

FILE - Gen. Khalifa Hafter, Libya's top army chief.
FILE - Gen. Khalifa Hafter, Libya's top army chief.

Libyan media reported the general was transferred from his headquarters in eastern Libya to Jordan about a week ago, then flown to France for treatment.

His military spokesman denies Hafter has any serious health issues.

Nazouri also says Hafter is expected to return from abroad, shortly.

Governing Council member Abdel Qader al Haweily serves under internationally recognized Libyan Prime Minister Fayez el- Seraj.

Al Haweily tells Arab media he thinks there is a struggle for succession inside the military forces loyal to Hafter, now that his health is deteriorating.

Eastern Libyan political and military leaders have denied such reports.

University of Paris Professor Khattar Abou Diab said the uncertainty about Hafter has added confusion to the political and military situation in eastern Libya.

He says the attack against Hafter's top commander looks like an effort by Islamist forces in Tripoli to regain control over the east of the country. That, he stresses, is a serious blow to the battle against terrorism in the east of the country and threatens the security of Libya's large eastern neighbor, Egypt.

Hafter's forces are battling militants in Derna, which is close to the Egyptian border. Cairo, which launched airstrikes against Derna several years ago, complains militants there use the town as a stepping stone for attacking Egypt.