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Former Libya minister hurt in Benghazi car bomb

A car bomb in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi killed one person yesterday and wounded 13, including former interior minister Ashour Shuwail, security and medical officials said.

The powerful explosion outside a mosque in Benghazi’s central Al-Majouri district after Friday prayers wrecked a number of cars and charred nearby buildings.

The attack came as Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) appears close to forcing Islamist-led opponents from their last holdouts after a military campaign that began in 2014.

It was not clear who staged Friday’s bombing, but the LNA’s rivals have carried out such attacks in Benghazi in the past. In November, a similar blast wounded a prominent tribal leader who had helped the LNA negotiate the takeover of several major oil ports.

Haftar is a controversial renegade military commander, seen as a strongman replacement for ousted and killed former Libyan dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who was overthrown during the Arab Spring.

Haftar was believed to have close links to the US Central Intelligence Agency, but is now building closer relationships with Russia, who have agreed to arm him despite an international arms embargo on Libya.

The rebel commander stands opposed to the UN-backed Government of National Accord.

Shuwail, who served as police chief in Benghazi after Libya’s 2011 uprising, was interior minister between 2012 and 2013.

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