Two suicide bombers drove a car packed with explosives into an army checkpoint Tuesday in Benghazi, Libya, killing seven people and triggering revenge airstrikes by special forces blaming Islamist militants.
Benghazi special forces commander Wanis Bukhamda said militants of the Ansar al-Sharia of group were responsible for the attack in the Lithi district, a stronghold of Islamists.
However, militants claiming loyalty to Islamic State said they were responsible for the blast, according to a statement on Twitter. The militants posted pictures on social media of the attack and an alleged bomber.
Late Tuesday, warplanes from Benghazi airport began attacking suspected Islamist positions in revenge, said Naser al-Hasi, a spokesman for the military base.
In a separate incident in the port city ravaged by street fighting, a rocket hit a residential building, killing a 17-year-old girl and another person, hospital medics said. Three others were wounded.
Tuesday's violence came after Ansar al-Sharia said in a statement that a senior Islamist commander, Mohamed al-Areibi, was killed in Benghazi on Monday. It also followed a proposal for a unity government by U.N. special envoy for Libya Bernardino Leon — an effort, he said, to stop a "mess of a war."
Violence and political chaos have plagued Libya since longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi was overthrown and killed in 2011. Islamic militants seized the capital and set up a rival government, forcing the internationally recognized government to flee to the east.
Some information for this report came from Reuters.