CAIRO - Amid sporadic fighting between Islamist militias and Libya's official armed forces, several bomb attacks were reported in the capital Tripoli against the embassies of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. Both Egypt and the UAE have expressed strong support for the Libyan military against the Islamists.
Libyan TV, quoting a spokesman for the Islamist Fajr militia coalition which controls Tripoli, reported that a car bomb exploded in front of the Egyptian embassy, without causing any casualties. It said nearby buildings were slightly damaged by the blast.
Militia spokesman Ahmed Hadiya claimed that “certain parties are trying to take advantage of bad relations between his group and the current Egyptian government in order to destabilize the Libyan capital.”
Hadiya insisted that adequate security measures were in place in Tripoli, and that even in a stable environment lapses occur from time to time. He went on to say that such acts of terrorism would be quashed without pity, along with those who commit them.
Egypt and the UAE reportedly launched several airstrikes against Islamic militants in the Libyan capital in the past three months. Egypt denied.
Egyptian analyst and commentator Hisham Kassem said that he thought Egypt and the UAE were singled out in the attacks because of their stance against the Islamist militias, which control wide swathes of Libya and elsewhere.
"It's a confrontation between that 'terror belt,' and the governments of the region who have decided to stand up to it, Egypt and [the] Emirates being definitely hard core in that coalition against them. What you have now is a full-fledged confrontation... and we're going to be seeing a lot of desperate measures as things progress," said Kassem.
Libyan TV reported that a second car bomb went off in front of the United Arab Emirates' embassy, although other reports claimed that the bomb was defused. The TV showed a photo of what appeared to be a burned-out vehicle in front of a building which looked intact.
Heavy fighting was reported overnight in the eastern city Benghazi between Islamist militiamen and forces loyal to renegade Army Commander Khalifa Hafter. Witnesses say Grad rockets and rocket-propelled grenades were fired in the center of the city.
Libyan TV reported that the Red Crescent carried out its largest evacuation to date of families in the central districts of Benghazi affected by the fighting. Red Crescent spokesman Tawfiq Shoukri said more than 1,000 people were taken to more secure locations.
He said the Red Crescent has four or five locations for displaced people that are outside the worst-hit areas and more safe. But he added the situation in Benghazi was very tense due to the intermittent fighting.
In political developments, the head of Libya's crisis government, now based in the eastern city of Tobruk, Abdallah al Thani, met with top Saudi officials during a visit to the capital, Riyadh. Al Thani and his top army commander reportedly met with Saudi intelligence chief Khaled bin Bandar bin Abdel Aziz.
Several car bombs went off in eastern Libya Wednesday, including one near the Abraq air base used by the prime minister when he travels. Another bombing in Tobruk, seat of the Libyan parliament, left three people dead, including the suicide bomber.
The government moved to Tobruk after militants forced them from the capital and declared their own rival government.
In Cairo, Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal met with Egyptian officials Thursday to discuss the security situation in Libya.