Recent violence in the Libyan city of Benghazi continued with a grenade attack on a private primary school that injured twelve students. The attacker threw a grenade over the school wall into the playground where children were enjoying recess. Twelve children were injured, two of them severely and the school sustained damage.
“I was hit during the blast; I do not know what happened” explained Rashid Mehdi, one of the injured students.
Residents in the area described the incident, claiming that the man used his mouth to pull the pin out of the grenade and then launched it into the schoolyard where it detonated. When children and others nearby began screaming and running from the site of the attack, the attacker jumped in a nearby car and fled the site. Libyan officials did not make an identification or an arrest immediately following the incident.
Masuda Mohammed, a mother of one of the school victims, recounted a conversation she shared with her son just the day before the attack when he said “while leaving school, we met a young man. ‘What do you benefit from the school’ he asked. ‘You never know, your school or another one might get bombed tomorrow,’ he told us…[we] thought he was a thug and ran away.”
Residents in Benghazi have become increasingly worried about the escalation of violence in recent months. The city has seen a resurgence of violent attacks at the hands of feuding rebel militias that have remained outside of the government’s control. According to one parent, Masuda Fitouri, “tomorrow we will not send our children to school in protest against the bombing.” Fatima Zahra, a teacher, exclaimed “everyone is now a target, not only the military and the police, but even kids.”
Violence has become a nearly daily reality in the city as militias engage in active conflict with security forces and other militias. Just one day after the school attack on February 5th, several other incidents were reported. Violent attacks were launched against two separate television channels on February 5th. On the same day, an activist was injured following an assassination attempt and a militia member was killed and brutally tortured.
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