Car blast kills two in Libyan capital

A picture taken on February 15, 2015 shows the Italian Embassy in Tripoli, Libya, near where two people were killed in a car explosion January 21, 2017 (AFP Photo/MAHMUD TURKIA) (AFP/File)

Tripoli (AFP) - A car exploded Saturday in the Libyan capital near the Italian embassy killing two people who were inside the vehicle, security and medical sources said.

It was not immediately clear if the blast was accidental or an attack or whether the Italian embassy, which had reopened less than two weeks ago, was the target.

A Red Crescent official in Tripoli said rescue workers pulled two charred and unidentified bodies from the vehicle.

The car exploded on a street located behind both the Italian and the Egyptian embassies, outside the Libyan ministry of planning and near a hotel, an AFP correspondent at the scene said.

Police cordoned off the area.

A security source said it was not clear if the blast was the result of an attack.

Libya has fallen into chaos since the 2011 revolution that toppled and killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

Tripoli has been hit by many car bombs and violence since then.

On September 8 last year, two car bombs went off in Tripoli, damaging vehicles but causing no casualties.

They exploded behind the ministry of foreign affairs and near the entrance to a naval base that was the headquarters of Libya's unity government when it set up operations in the city in March 2016.

The UN-backed Government of National Accord has failed to assert its authority over the country and is challenged by a rival administration based in Libya's remote east.

The embassy of Italy, a former colonial power in Libya, was one of the last western missions to close in February 2015 after a coalition of militias seized the capital Tripoli.

Italy announced the reopening of its embassy in Tripoli on January 9.