In one of the deadliest terror attacks in Libya to date, more than 50 people were killed and 127 others injured — several of them in critical condition– when a suicide bomber crashed a truck laden with explosives into a police training camp in the coastal town of Zliten at 8 am Thursday when about 400 recruits were doing their morning exercises.
The truck was a fuel tanker and the suicide bomber apparently managed to trick the guards at the camp gates to let him in. It exploded near a large group of coast guards.
The attack has all the hallmarks of Islamic State (IS), although it has not as yet made any claim.
Zliten Security Directorate’s Serraj Al-Rashdi told Libya Herald a boat carrying some strangers arrived at the town’s shore two days ago. Although security forces started the process of registering all strangers staying in the town without residency permits on Wednesday, they could not prevent the attack on the police camp.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility but the blast bore the hallmarks of Islamic State (IS).
“It’s a massacre,” eyewitnesses said.
Misrata Municipality confirmed the arrival of 30 wounded to the city’s central hospital, which sent an urgent call to local residents for blood donation.
The ministry of health has declared a state of emergency in Tripoli and Misrata hospitals to receive and treat blast victims.
Zliten has been a quiet place with no known presence of extremists although a major sufi shrine in the town was attacked by extremists more than three years ago.
Recently, the head of the counter-crime agency was killed in a car bomb blast. Police suspect the hand of either IS or Ansar Al-Sharia in the killing.
The camp attacked on Thursday is the training ground for many coast guards deployed to prevent human smuggling to Europe through the port town.