Tripoli: A car bomb targeting security forces on Tuesday in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi killed at least 23 people and wounded many others, a spokesman for the forces and medical officials said.
The blast occurred in a residential area in the Guwarsha district, the scene of fighting between security forces loyal to Libya’s eastern government and an alliance of Islamists and other opponents.
The alliance, the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries, claimed responsibility for the blast, according to a statement posted on media sites linked to the group.
Earlier, Italy’s foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni said they would consider allowing the US to use its Sigonella air base in Sicily for strikes against Islamic State militants in Libya if asked.
The two Nato allies agreed in February that Italy would only allow the US conduct “defensive” strikes from there, Mr Gentiloni said.
US planes bombed Islamic State – also known as Isis – targets in Libya on Monday at the request of the UN-backed government in Tripoli. This was to help push militants from their former stronghold of Sirte. US officials said this was the start of a sustained campaign.
When asked on RAI state television whether the US would be allowed to use the air base during the campaign, Mr Gentiloni said: “Should there be requests, we will consider them.”
So far Italy has not been asked, an Italian government source said.
The government can approve use of the base in eastern Sicily without a parliamentary vote, the source added.
On Tuesday Robin Mack, a spokeswoman for US Africa Command, declined to give details about the US strikes or where they originated.
Sigonella is home to a US naval air station as well as a base for the Italian air force. It is sometimes used for logistical support for US and other Nato forces.