Car bomb (illustration)
Car bomb (illustration) iStock

At least six people were killed when a car bomb exploded in the center of the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on Thursday night, residents told Reuters.

The bomb exploded near the Tibesti hotel, the city’s biggest. Ambulances were rushing to the scene.

No further details were immediately available.

Benghazi, which is Libya’s second largest city, is controlled by the Libyan National Army (LNA), the dominant force in eastern Libya led by commander Khalifa Haftar.

The LNA has been battling Islamists, including some linked to the Islamic State (ISIS) and Al-Qaeda, as well as other opponents.

Security in the area has improved in the last year, but two mosque bombings earlier this year killed at least 35 people, noted Reuters.

One of those attacks took place in January, when at least 22 people were killed in a double car bomb attack which occurred when an explosives-rigged vehicle blew up in front of a mosque in the central neighborhood of Al-Sleimani.

A second car exploded 30 minutes later in the same area, causing more casualties among security services and civilians.

Libya has been rocked by chaos since the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed dictator Muammar Qaddafi, with two rival authorities and multiple militias vying for control of the oil-rich country.

Last year, the Libyan jihadist group Ansar al-Sharia, which is accused by Washington of the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed the ambassador and three other Americans, announced its "dissolution".

Ansar al-Sharia is one of the jihadist groups that sprung up in Benghazi in the chaos following the death of Qaddafi. Members of the group overran the city in 2014 and later declared authority over the coastal city of Darna.

Most of Ansar al-Sharia members have defected to ISIS, which has been gaining ground in Libya in recent years.