September 8, 2016 / 8:52 AM / in 2 years

Two car bombs explode in Tripoli, no casualties: security official

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Two car bombs exploded near Tripoli’s foreign ministry and a naval base used by Libya’s U.N.-backed government early on Thursday, a security source said.

Images posted online from the bombing near the foreign ministry showed charred vehicle wreckage scattered in the middle of a street close to Tripoli’s coastal highway. There were no casualties from either bombing.

Tripoli is home to numerous armed factions that have clashed in the past, though the situation in recent months has been relatively calm.

Militants loyal to Islamic State are also thought to operate sleeper cells in Tripoli and carried out attacks there last year.

Some armed groups have helped provide security to the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA). Its leaders arrived in Tripoli in March, traveling to the naval base by ship after opponents shut down the airspace to prevent them flying in.

Since then, the GNA has gradually taken control of government buildings in Tripoli, including the foreign ministry, which is close to the naval base.

The GNA is designed to replace two rival sets of institutions in Tripoli and eastern Libya, which split after a battle for control of the capital in 2014.

But the new government has struggled to impose its authority and has failed to win endorsement from power-brokers in the east. It has also been widely criticized for failing to deal with day-to-day problems in Tripoli and beyond, including a liquidity crisis and lengthy power cuts.

Libyan forces aligned with the GNA are now close to ousting Islamic State from its former North African stronghold in Sirte, about 400 km (250 miles) south-east of Tripoli.

Editing by Gareth Jones and Robin Pomeroy

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