Posts Tagged ‘mosque’

German police raid mosque over suspected financing of Syria fighter

December 18, 2018

German Police on Tuesday raided a mosque in Berlin whose preacher was suspected of transferring funds to an Islamist fighter in Syria for the purpose of carrying out “terrorist criminal acts”, prosecutors said.

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Sehitlik Mosque in Berlin

Officers searched the As-Sahaba mosque in Berlin’s northern district of Wedding where 45-year-old Ahmad A. – known to his followers as Abul Baraa – preaches, the General Prosecutor’s Office said.

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Abul Baraa

There was no immediate comment from the cleric or any lawyer representing him.

Reporting by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Andrew Heavens



At least 10 killed in Afghan army mosque suicide bombing

November 23, 2018

At least 10 Afghan soldiers were killed in a mosque on Friday when a suicide bomber detonated explosives during prayers, a spokesman for the province’s governor said.

Soldiers of the Afghan National Army prepare for the departure of their convoy at the base in Narizah in Khost province in this photo on August 14, 2012. (AFP)

Residents and one source put the death toll at 26 from the attack in Mandozai district, Khost province, near the border with Pakistan. The mosque was packed with soldiers when the blast happened.

It came days after 55 clerics were killed while marking the birth of Prophet Muhammad in a Kabul hotel.

No group has claimed responsibility for either attack.

Arab News

German city of Cologne braces for protests as Erdogan opens mega mosque

September 29, 2018

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to open one of Europe’s largest mosques in Cologne on Saturday as he wraps up a controversial visit to Germany, with police deploying in force amid planned protests.

The inauguration will be the closing event of his three-day state visit, aimed at repairing frayed ties with Berlin after two years of tensions.

Cars passing the new central mosque in Cologne, Germany, Friday, Sept. 28, 2018. (AP)

After talks with Angela Merkel on Friday, both leaders signalled their interest in a cautious rapprochement, but the German chancellor stressed that “deep differences” remained on civil rights and other issues.

Some 10,000 Erdogan critics are expected to take to the streets in Cologne, protesting everything from Turkey’s record on human rights and press freedom to its treatment of minority Kurds.

About 300 people had gathered on the bank of the Rhine early Saturday. They held banners proclaiming “Erdogan not welcome” and shouted slogans such as “International solidarity” and “Away with fascism.”
Cansu, a 30-year-old student of Turkish origin came from Switzerland for the rally.

“I want to be the voice of people who can’t take to the streets in Turkey. Because they have been arrested, killed or otherwise suppressed. Erdogan thinks anything that differs from his opinion is terrorism. I am here to show solidarity.”

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Credit Getty Images

And Tomas, a German student turned up in a suit spotted with fake blood. He held a giant banner with several other people that read “Dictator. Mass murderer.”

“I can understand that he was invited to Berlin. But that he is coming to Cologne is a provocation. We are here to show: Cologne does not want you,” the 22-year-old said.

Erdogan supporters meanwhile will gather at the Cologne Central Mosque, an imposing dome-shaped building next to the shadowy, Turkish-controlled Ditib organization.

Cologne police said they were bracing for one of their biggest ever deployments, and that a maximum of 5,000 people would be allowed to attend the opening ceremony for safety reasons.

Both Cologne mayor Henriette Reker and the state’s premier Armin Laschet pulled out of attending the opening as criticism of Erdogan’s visit grew.

The snubs echo the lukewarm welcome the Turkish leader received the previous evening at a state dinner hosted by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, which several opposition politicians boycotted. Merkel also skipped the banquet.

Erdogan’s visit on Saturday takes him to North Rhine-Westphalia state, which is home to significant numbers of ethnic Turks, many who moved to Germany as so-called “guest workers” from the 1960s.

The giant Cologne Central Mosque opened its doors in 2017 after eight years of construction and budget overruns. It can house more than a thousand worshippers.

The size of the building, designed to resemble a flower bud opening, and its two towering minarets has disgruntled some locals, triggering occasional protests.

The Turkish-Islamic Union of the Institute for Religion (Ditib) that commissioned the glass and cement structure is itself not without controversy.

The group runs hundreds of mosques across Germany with imams paid by the Turkish state.

Known for its close ties to Ankara, it has increasingly come under scrutiny with some of members suspected of spying on Turkish dissidents living in Germany.


See also:

Turkey-Germany: Erdogan urges Merkel to extradite Gulen ‘terrorists’


Al Shabaab Car Bomb Kills at Least Six in Central Mogadishu

September 2, 2018

At least six people were killed when a suicide car bomb struck a local government office in central Mogadishu on Sunday, destroying the building and a Quranic school opposite.

Islamist militant group Al Shabaab said it was behind the attack on Hawlwadag district office, which also blew off the roof of a mosque and damaged houses nearby.

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Abdiasis Abu Musab, Al Shabaab’s military operations spokesman

At least six people had been killed, including soldiers, civilians and the suicide bomber, and a dozen injured, according to police officer Mohamed Hussein.


The school was open but at the time of the blast most children were away from the building on a break.


Earlier the director of the Amin ambulance service told Reuters that at least 14 people had been were injured, including 6 children.


A Reuters journalist on the scene saw a human hand and blood stains in the rubble as people searched for survivors.


Abdiasis Abu Musab, Al Shabaab’s military operations spokesman, said the group had carried out the attack.


“We are behind the suicide attack. We targeted the district office in which there was a meeting. We killed 10 people so far, we shall give details later.”


Somalia has been wracked by lawlessness and violence since 1991. Islamist group al Shabaab is fighting to dislodge a Western-backed government protected by African Union-mandated peacekeepers.


(Reporting by Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar; Writing by Omar Mohammed; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)


China’s Mosque Demolition Protest Ends with Compromise

August 16, 2018


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Thousands of Hui Muslims gathered at the Weizhou Grand Mosque in Ningxia last week in an attempt to stall government plans to demolish the newly built structure. The forced demolition threat came after authorities issued a notice on August 3rd demanding the mosque be torn down by Friday, citing that it had not been granted the necessary planning and construction permits. Camila Domonoske at NPR reports:

The Grand Mosque in Weizhou is brand-new — it was just finished last year. Authorities say it lacks the proper permits and must be torn down. But worshipers are fiercely opposed. They point out that the government did not raise concerns about the permits during the actual construction process.

[…] Public demonstrations like this are not common in China, “where the government is often quick to quash any hint of dissent,” The Associated Press notes.

[…] ” ‘People are in a lot of pain,’ said Ma Sengming, a 72-year-old man who was at the protest from Thursday morning until Friday afternoon. ‘Many people were crying. We can’t understand why this is happening.’

“The protest comes as faith groups that were largely tolerated in the past have seen their freedoms shrink as the government seeks to ‘Sinicize’ religions by making the faithful prioritize allegiance to the officially atheist ruling Communist Party. Islamic crescents and domes have been stripped from mosques, Christian churches have been shut down and Bibles seized, and Tibetan children have been moved from Buddhist temples to schools.” [Source]

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Although local officials subsequently withdrew the demolition order in response to the protests, they insisted on removing several domes on the mosque to make it look more Chinese in style–a move that is in line with government efforts to “Sinicize religion.” The remodelling plan was met with further opposition from the community as protesters vowed to fight on until a compromise is reached. Nectar Gan at South China Morning Post reports:

With its onion-shaped domes, crescent moons and towering minarets, the all-white mosque is the latest structure to come into the cross hairs of a campaign to rid Ningxia of what the government sees as creeping Islamisation and Arabisation.

[…] The first version of that plan called for the mosque’s “Arab style” domes to be replaced with traditional Chinese-style pagodas, but was swiftly rejected by worshippers. The government then asked the mosque’s management committee to remove eight of the nine domes that top the mosque, leaving the largest one in the centre.

That, too, was deemed unacceptable by most members of the community.

“After taking down the domes, the mosque can no longer be an icon of ,” said a local man who declined to give his name. “Changing it to a traditional Chinese style is as incongruous as putting the mouth of a horse on the head of an ox.”

[…] “The officials have not given us a clear answer,” one member of the crowd said. “And we plan to carry on until the government makes it clear that it won’t make any changes to the mosque.” [Source]

Gan writes that the protests came to an end over the weekend after authorities promised not to alter the appearance of the mosque without first consulting members of the community. Talks are scheduled to begin next week after the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha.

Residents in Weizhou, a  town of about 20,000 people in the northern Ningxia region on the Yellow River floodplain, said that life was returning to normal after assurances were given on Saturday afternoon by the chief of Tongxin county, which governs Weizhou.

“It’s all calmed down now,” a resident who witnessed the protest said. “The county’s party chief has told everyone that the mosque is to be revamped, not demolished, and the reconstruction will only take place after everyone is happy [with the renovation plan].”

A business owner said: “[The county chief] said we should first celebrate Eid al-Adha, and negotiations over the reconstruction could resume afterwards.” Eid al-Adha, known as “festival of sacrifice”, is one of the two major annual Islamic festivals and starts next week, running over four days.

Internet services also resumed in the town on Monday afternoon after two days of outages, and prayer services at the mosque were again being held as usual, residents said. [Source]

The authorities’ heavy-handed approach in Ningxia is prompting fears that the government is extending its crackdown on Islam from Xinjiang to other parts of China where Muslim minorities reside. Rapidly expanding policing and surveillance in recent years has turned Xinjiang into a massive police state, where efforts to combat “religious extremism” have led to bans on long beards and the wearing of veils. A recent report from a UN human rights panel estimates that more than one million Uyghurs have been sent to re-education camps where they are forced to renounce their religious identity as part of the state’s anti-terrorism campaign. Questioning by the UN on this issue was met with outright denial as Beijing refused to acknowledge the rights violations that it has committedagainst its  population. From the BBC:

[…T]he current move to demolish the Ningxia mosque is an indication that the government is now looking to extend control over other Muslim ethnic minorities, says rights group Amnesty International.

Earlier this year, in neighbouring Gansu province, children under 16 in the region of Linxia were banned from religious activities, in a move that alarmed Hui imams.

“It’s clear that the Chinese government’s hostility towards Muslims in China is not only limited to Uighurs,” researcher Patrick Poon told the BBC.

“Hui Muslims are generally considered less vulnerable to crackdowns, but this incident proves that the government is determined to use a holistic and heavy-handed approach towards all Muslim ethnic minorities in China.” [Source]

The SCMP editorial board writes that the protest by Hui Muslims in Weizhou was less a reflection of expanding religious oppression and more a consequence of the government’s lack of sensitivity and consideration towards local conditions in drawing up regulatory policies.

Religious institutions and communities share in China’s rising prosperity. This is often reflected by lavish property developments that project worldly rather than spiritual values associated with places of worship and spark friction with secular bureaucracy. Despite the wealth of religious bodies, it can take a long time to obtain various permits to build a new place of worship on the mainland, and just a stroke of the pen for an order to pull it down because it still does not have all the necessary paperwork. That is a recipe for conflict in which heavy-handed regulation is conflated with religious oppression.

[…] Regardless of perceptions, it is reasonable for officials to expect religious institutions to comply with local building regulations and standards. But even legitimate enforcement, often prompted by a higher authority, is fraught with the risk of misrepresentation of political motives. Officials need to exercise their power with sensitivity and common sense. Demands for demolition and radical changes to churches, mosques and temples without so much as lip service to negotiation or consultation are examples. They show little empathy with the feelings of people amid political concerns, as mainlanders increasingly turn to religion to fill the spiritual vacuum left by wealth and materialism.

That said, it is a sweeping conclusion to regard the Weizhou protest as an issue of . Examples of conflict with authority over places of worship may be found throughout China but they are not part of a universal pattern. There is a historical background in that Beijing has drawn up policies on the design and construction of temples. In this case, it has apparently come down to an issue of building standards. However, even though Beijing may be able to cite rules as the basis of action, officials have to be sensitive to local conditions and sentiment in applying them and take into consideration circumstances on the ground. [Source]

At the BBC, David Stroup, an expert on Hui Muslims at the University of Oklahoma, writes that the government’s action in Weizhou could backfire as it risks antagonizing an Islamic community that benefited from China’s economic development and, as a result, think of themselves as both Chinese patriots and loyal Muslims.

The Great Western Development Campaign of the early 2000s poured resources into towns like Weizhou and with this economic support, the people of this tiny Hui enclave pulled themselves out of poverty, and reconnected with their Islamic heritage.

Local residents engaged in entrepreneurship and became modestly prosperous. The community opened schools for poor children to learn to read the Koran. People began to pray regularly. One person I spoke to told me: “People here have simple lives. There aren’t any high-rise buildings, but the locals are really quite prosperous. Life here is good.”

Far from extremist rejection of the party-state’s authority, Weizhou’s Hui community prospered under state-led development initiatives.

The community’s religious devotion grew alongside its economy. Residents of the town view themselves as exemplars of both Islamic devotion and Chinese patriotism.

In antagonising them, the Chinese Communist Party risks provoking resistance among the very segment of its population it can ill afford to lose. [Source]


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Ethnic Uighur children in the old town of Kashgar, in the far western Xinjiang province © Getty

  (Academic Freedom Chinese Style)

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Chinese tourists expelled from Malaysia for ‘hot dance’ in front of mosque

June 29, 2018

Disrespect for religious sites is becoming a global craze…. Footage of pair of Chinese females cavorting in front of religious site triggered angry response in Muslim-majority country

South China Morning Post
Friday, 29 June, 2018, 5:12pm

Two Chinese female tourists have been fined and thrown out of Malaysia after making a dance video in front of a mosque.

Footage of Wan Han, 37, and Zhang Na, 25, dancing outside the Kota Kinabalu City Mosque was widely shared on social media under the heading “hot dance” and triggered an angry reaction in the majority Muslim country.

The mosque’s chairman denounced their “inappropriate” behaviour and announced that visits would be suspended to protect the sanctity of Islam.

The site is one of the main landmarks in the city, which is the capital of Sabah state on the island of Borneo and is known as the “floating mosque” because it is surrounded by a man-made lagoon.

Police fined the pair 25 ringgits (US$6.20) and they were escorted to the local airport where they boarded a flight back to China, Sohu’s news site reported on Friday.

“Recently, two female Chinese tourists filmed a ‘hot dance’ video on the wall of the floating mosque in Kota Kinabalu city,” read a statement released by the Chinese consulate general office in the city on Tuesday.

“The incident was widely circulated on social media and received a generally bad reaction in the local community.

“Sabah’s ministry of tourism, the immigration bureau and the city police department have been involved in the investigation, and the mosque has suspended visitors.”

The consulate reminded Chinese tourists visiting Sabah that they “must abide by the laws and regulations of the country of their destination, respect local religious traditions and customs, follow guides’ arrangements and should by no means address religious taboos. They should safeguard the good image of Chinese tourists”.

Christina Liew, the tourism, culture and environment minister of Sabah, told PearVideo the pair had been given a “cautioning”.

PearVideo’s footage of the incident had attracted over 1,730,000 views in the space of two days.

Islam is the most widely practised religion in Malaysia with 19.5 million adherents – 61.3 per cent of the population – in 2013, according to Pew Research Centre.

In 2015 four Western tourists pleaded guilty to obscenity charges for taking nude photos on Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, an act some locals blamed for causing a deadly earthquake.


Belgian model Marisa Papen poses in front of the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, May 2018 (courtesy: Mathias Lambrecht)

Belgian model Marisa Papen poses in front of the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, May 2018 (courtesy: Mathias Lambrecht)

Pakistani mob attacks Ahmadi Mosque in Sialkot

May 24, 2018

A mob led by right-wing Muslim clerics tore down the dome and minarets of a 100-year old Pakistani mosque belonging to the marginalized Ahmadi community, officials and the community said on Thursday.

Ahmadis are one of the most persecuted groups in Sunni-majority Pakistan, with Islamists and religious hardliners labelling them heretics, while harsh Pakistani laws ban them from calling themselves Muslims or using Islamic symbols.

Saleemuddin, a spokesman for the Ahmadi community, said a mob stormed the mosque complex in Sialkot, near the Indian border in Punjab province, overnight. He put the number at several hundred.

He said there was collusion between the mob and local government officials, but police denied such accusations.

Asad Sarfraz, a police official, said municipal government officials were at the mosque complex removing what he called “illegal renovation”.

“An emotionally charged mob of people belonging to different groups and segments of society reached there and damaged several parts of the building,” Sarfraz said.

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Sarfraz said about 60-70 people were involved and authorities were attempting to identify the attackers.

Saleemuddin denied the renovation work was illegal and said the community had obtained permission from the local government to upgrade the building. He shared an application approved by the municipal government with Reuters.

A social media video of the attack’s aftermath shows a crowd cheering a local cleric, who then claims to have ransacked the mosque.

“I want to thank the Sialkot administration, the DPO (District Police Officer), DC (District Commissioner), the TMA (Town Municipal Corporation), from the bottom of my heart,” said the cleric, from the majority Sunni community.

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“Because as Muslims it was your responsibility to complete this work.”

The Ahmadis consider themselves to be Muslims but their recognition of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who founded the sect in British-ruled India in 1889, as a “subordinate prophet” is viewed by many of the Sunni majority as a breach of the Islamic tenet that the Prophet Mohammad was God’s last direct messenger.

Additional reporting by Mubasher Bukhari in Lahore; Writing by Saad Sayeed; Editing by Drazen Jorgic and Nick Macfie

Nigeria: Suicide bombers kill dozens in blasts at Mubi mosque

May 2, 2018

Police say dozens of people were killed in an attack on a mosque in northern Nigeria. Many are blaming the extremist group Boko Haram, though police have not formally speculated as to the motive for the attack.

Nigerian army in Mubi

Dozens of people died on Tuesday when two suicide bombers detonated their explosives at a mosque and a market in Mubi, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) by road from Yola in northeast Nigeria.

Abdullahi Yerima, police commissioner in Adamawa state, said a suicide bomber had struck at the mosque shortly after 1 p.m. (1200 UTC) and a second attacker detonated a device about 200 meters (660 feet) away as worshippers fled. Bomb squads and security personnel have cordoned off the scene.


Striking health workers returned to the hospital to attend to the victims. “We have evacuated dozens of dead and injured people to the hospital,” Habu Saleh, who was volunteering in the aftermath of the explosion, told the news agency AFP. “And the rescue operation is still ongoing.”

Read more: Fighting Boko Haram with bows and arrows

Boko Haram, which briefly held control of Mubi in 2014 as part of its nine-year insurgency, has repeatedly targeted the town with deadly attacks. The fighting has left more than 20,000 people dead and forced about 2 million to flee their homes nationwide. On Thursday, the group carried out an attack in Maiduguri, the capital of the neighboring Borno state, that killed four people.

On November 21, a suicide bomber killed at least 50 people in a mosque during early morning prayers in the Unguwar Shuwa area of Mubi. In 2014, about 40 football supporters died in a bomb attack after a match in the Kabang area of the town. At least 40 people died in a 2012 attack on student housing in Mubi widely blamed on Boko Haram.

mkg/rc (Reuters, AFP, AP)

Germany: Is Islam Part of German Culture? Ministers Respond to Seehofer’s “Islam doesn’t belong to Germany.”

March 17, 2018

Chancellor Merkel led the response to the new interior minister’s remarks, saying the 4 million Muslims living in Germany and their religion belong in the country. SPD ministers called for practical integration measures.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and Chancellor Angela Merkel

New Interior Minister Horst Seehofer had told Bild newspaper “Islam doesn’t belong to Germany,” but added that “the Muslims who live with us are, of course, part of Germany.”

Seehofer, a former head of Bavaria’s Christian Social Union (CSU), has always held a harder line on immigration than his coalition partners in Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU). The CSU also faces state elections in October in which the Alternative for Germany (AfD), anti-immigrant party presents a challenge.

Asked about Seehofer’s remarks, Merkel said on Friday that while Germany was shaped by its Judeo-Christian heritage “there are 4 million Muslims living in Germany.”

“They can live their religion here, too,” the chancellor said. “These Muslims belong to Germany and in the same way their religion belongs to Germany, that is to say Islam.” She added that the form of Islam practiced must conform to the country’s constitution.

belongs to Germany.”

Chancellor reacts to a controversial interview by Interior Minister :

Read moreNet migration to Germany sank by half in 2016: statistics office

SPD ministers look to practicalities

Three Social Democratic Party (SPD) ministers reacted to Seehofer’s comments, calling for practical solutions rather than divisive debate.

Federal Justice Minister Katarina Barley proposed an end to theoretical debate on the affiliation of Islam to Germany. “Theoretical debates have been going on for long enough,” Barley told Saturday’s edition of the Rheinische Post. Instead, the focus should be on practical solutions for problems: “As far as our values are concerned, this is and remains the fundamental law – the basis of our coexistence.”

Family Minister Franziska Giffey expressed a similar sentiment: “Local debates do not help at all,” she said during an interview with broadcaster ZDF. The focus should be on organizing the people who live in Germany, whatever their origin or religion, so they can live together and shape society’s social peace.


'Merkel contradicts Seehofer' was the Bild headline after his remarks‘Merkel contradicts Seehofer’ was the Bild headline after his remarks were put on the front page

Seehofer accused of electioneering

Labor Minister Hubertus Heil told Funke Media Group newspapers on Saturday, “We have to talk about work and education and about rules for our coexistence.”

“The debate that Horst Seehofer is continuing serves no substantive purpose and is being used to create a particular atmosphere ahead of the state election in Bavaria,” he said. Bavarians will vote for a state parliament in October.

Heil called for “fair chances and clear rules” for immigrants under the rule of law. He spoke out against any form of extremism but said that religious freedom existed in Germany and that included “the people of the Muslim faith” who also belonged to Germany.

Saturday’s newspapers in Germany also commented extensively on Seehofer’s remarks. Most focused on Seehofer’s use of his new role as federal interior minister to make political points ahead of his state election.

jm/sms (Reuters, dpa, AP)


More than 30 dead in car bombings at Benghazi mosque — “direct or indiscriminate attacks against civilians… constitute war crimes”

January 24, 2018
© AFP | Libyans check the aftermath of an explosion in the eastern city of Benghazi on January 24, 2018


More than 30 people were dead and dozens wounded after two car bombings outside a mosque frequented by jihadist opponents in Libya’s second city Benghazi, medical officials said Wednesday.

The attack after evening prayers on Tuesday underlined the continued chaos in Libya, which has been wracked by violence and divisions since dictator Moamer Kadhafi was toppled and killed in a 2011 NATO-backed uprising.

Benghazi has been relatively calm since military strongman Khalifa Haftar announced the eastern city’s “liberation” from jihadists in July last year after a three-year campaign, but sporadic violence has continued.

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Khalifa Haftar

The bombers blew up two cars 30 minutes apart outside the mosque in the central neighbourhood of Al-Sleimani, according to security officials.

Emergency and security workers who had rushed to the scene were among those killed in the second blast.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but the mosque is known to be a base for Salafist groups which fought the jihadists alongside Haftar’s forces.

Mourners gathered outside the mosque on Wednesday, walking through puddles of water stained red with blood. Vehicles in a parking lot outside the mosque were burnt-out and mangled, their windows shattered.

The city’s Al-Jala hospital received 25 dead and 51 wounded, its spokeswoman Fadia al-Barghathi said. The Benghazi Medical Centre received nine dead and 36 wounded, spokesman Khalil Gider said.

Ahmad al-Fituri, a security official for Haftar’s forces, was among those killed, military spokesman Milud al-Zwei said.

Medical officials said many of the wounded were in critical condition and the death toll was likely to rise.

– Political turmoil –

Haftar supports an administration based in the east of the country. It declared three days of mourning following the attack.

A UN-backed unity government based in the capital Tripoli, the Government of National Accord (GNA), has struggled to assert its authority outside the west.

The GNA condemned the attack as a “terrorist and cowardly act”.

The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) denounced the bombings as “horrific” and warned that “direct or indiscriminate attacks against civilians… constitute war crimes”.

UN efforts to reconcile the rival administrations have produced no concrete result.

Haftar said in late December he would support elections in 2018 to bring the country out of chaos, but suggested he could take measures if efforts for “a peaceful power transition via free and democratic elections were exhausted”.

Haftar’s opponents accuse him of wanting to seize power and establish a military dictatorship, while his supporters have called for him to take control by “popular mandate”.

UN envoy Ghassan Salame presented a plan to the Security Council in September to hold parliamentary and presidential elections this year, but analysts are sceptical they will take place.

Clashes between rival militias are common, with fighting at Tripoli’s airport last week leaving 20 dead and forcing the cancellation of all flights for five days.

The turmoil has stifled efforts to restore oil-rich Libya’s economy and made the country fertile ground for extremists.

The Islamic State group has a significant presence and was in control of coastal city Sirte from late 2014 to late 2016, when the jihadists were pushed out by pro-GNA forces.

People-smugglers have also taken advantage of the chaos to turn the country into a major gateway for migrants heading to Europe.