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At Least 47 Killed in Truck Bomb Attack on Libyan Police Training Center

The reported bombing, which witnesses say caused dozens of casualties, follows three days of Islamic State attacks this week on Libya's biggest oil terminals.

by Reuters and VICE News
Jan 7 2016, 10:20am

Le bâtiment visé ce jeudi matin dans la ville de Zliten en Libye. (Photo via Reuters)

At least 47 people were killed on Thursday when one of Libya's worst truck bombs in years exploded at a police training center in the northwestern town of Zliten.

No group immediately claimed the attack, but the bombing was one of the deadliest since Islamist militants started expanding their presence in the chaos that followed the fall of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.

Mayor Miftah Hamadi said the bomb detonated as around 400 recruits were gathering at the police center in Zliten, a coastal town between the capital Tripoli and the port of Misrata. The center was a military base during Qaddafi's rule.

"It was horrific, the explosion was so loud it was heard from miles away," Hamadi told Reuters by telephone, his voice choked with emotion. "All the victims were young, and all about to start their lives."

Medical sources had initially said 65 people had been killed, including some civilians. But Fozi Awnais, head of the crisis committee for the health ministry in Tripoli, said later that 47 people had died and 118 more were wounded.

Related: The Islamic State's Next Target: Libyan Oil

The reported bombing follows three days of Islamic State (IS) attacks this week on Libya's biggest oil terminals, which killed at least nine guards and injured more than 40.

Libya is split between political factions and armed groups competing for power and for the country's oil wealth, four years after the revolt that toppled Qaddafi. Oil output has dwindled to less than one quarter of a 2011 high of 1.6 million barrels per day.

IS has used the security vacuum to expand its presence, though it has not taken control of oil installations in the country.

The oil terminals are critical to IS's goal of taking over Libya, experts told VICE News. If the militant groups gains control of them, it will give them revenue with which to consolidate power, and will also destabilize UN-brokered talks aimed at establishing a national unity government.

Related: Libya's Future Is Up in the Air as Political Talks Between Rival Governments Collapse

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