Libyan police in Tripoli.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Islamic State fighters said they were behind attacks on the residence of the Iranian ambassador in Tripoli and eastern Libya’s Labraq airport, a group statement on Twitter said on Sunday.
Two bombs detonated in front of the residency of the Iranian ambassador in Tripoli on Sunday, while rockets were fired on Labraq airport overnight Friday into Saturday. Iran’s official IRNA news agency confirmed the blasts and the absence of casualties, adding that Iran had previously suspended operations at its embassy.
“Two devices were laid, one exploded first and then the other. The point of the second bomb was to create confusion,” Col. Jumaa al-Mashri from the National Security Agency told Tripoli-based al-Nabaa television.
A Reuters reporter at the scene saw the second device going off some 30 minutes after the first one. Minor damage could be seen at the gate.
Other foreign missions in the capital, such as the embassies of Algeria, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, have also been targeted with bombings, again with no casualties.
Most Western nations and the United Nations moved out their staff in the past year during fighting between rival factions vying for control of Tripoli, four years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi.
Libya’s internationally recognized government and the elected House of Representatives has been forced to work out of the east since a group called Libya Dawn took control of the capital, reinstated the previous assembly and installed a rival administration.
The eastern-based government is recognized by the United Nations and Western powers. The Tripoli administration is not, but still controls ministries, airports and some oil facilities.
On Saturday, Arab media reported that insurgents in Libya have captured chemical weapons from storage areas in southern and central parts of the country.
“Unfortunately [chemical weapons] exist in locations known to the militias, who have seized large amounts of them to use in their war against the [Libyan] army,” a Libyan military official told the London- based daily Asharq Alawsat.
Gaddafi’s former regime had held the chemical weapons and the official warned that Islamic State could obtain the chemicals, which include mustard gas and the nerve agent Sarin.
“Before his death, Gaddafi left approximately 1,000 cubic tons worth of material used for manufacturing chemical weapons and about 20,000 cubic tons of mustard gas,” added the military official.
In addition, Asharq Alawsat obtained a video of what seems to be fighters testing the chemical weapons in a mountainous area near the town of Mizda, 160 km. south of Tripoli. The video shows the firing of a projectile that produced fire and dense white smoke.
Locals told the Arab newspaper that an armed group that was guarding a chemical factory in Jufra District, 600 km.
southeast of Tripoli, transferred some of the mustard gas to the Mediterranean city of Misrata.