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Massive blast outside hospital in Benghazi, Libya, up to 17 dead (PHOTOS)

At least 17 people, including three children, were killed and another 30 injured when a car bomb exploded in a crowded area outside a hospital in Benghazi, Libya.

Libya’s Defense Ministry reported that 17 people died in the blast, shortly after Libyan Deputy Interior Minister Abdullah Massoud confirmed 15 deaths.

“Fifteen people have been killed and at least 30 were wounded in the explosion of a car bomb near the hospital," Deputy Interior Minister Massoud said.

Libyan security official Abdel-Salam al-Barghathi said the car bomb was parked outside a bakery near the city's main hospital, AP reported.

"I saw people running and some of them were collecting parts of bodies," Reuters quoted a witness as saying.

The Facebook community OnlyLibya has posted a clip that it claims was taken at the scene of the blast.

No group has claimed responsibility for the bombing in Benghazi - the city that is considered to be the cradle of the revolution that ousted longtime Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Abayomi Azikiwe, the editor of Pan-African News Wire, says the attack could have been carried out by different groups of people – not only the suspected extremists.

“A lot of dissatisfaction exists not only among the so-called militia groups, but also among the people who are being targeted, who were part of the former government of Muammar Gaddafi. There was recently a piece of legislation passed in the capital of Tripoli that is definitely going to go after the people who served in the previous government. These people are set to lose their jobs. They will lose their status in Libyan society. It could also come from people who are quite angry about the role of Britain, the United States, as well as the other NATO countries, and developments that are taking place in Mali and Niger”, Azikiwe told RT.

Witnesses wrote on Twitter that the hospital bombing appeared different in nature from the attacks on Benghazi police stations witnessed in recent days, as the attack targeted a public place, not law enforcement.

Amer Elshebane, who runs a small electronics store,  said the people overwhelmingly blame Al Qaeda-linked militias running amok , and that the situation is hopeless in the light of extremism being funded from outside:

“That’s why people went into the streets in Benghazi, especially some parts of eastern Libya, burning the Qatari flag in the street. And with this bombing, the militias are sending a message to the people that ‘we are controlling the country – not the government’.”

Elshebane added that “the situation has never been under control and that it has gotten worse since last year… there is no real government in Libya. Militias are controlling the country. Most of them are supported by foreign governments, like the Qatari and the Turkish governments.”

The car bombing near the hospital is the latest in a string of attacks across the country in recent weeks.

A bomb exploded outside a police station in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on May 10. The blast damaged the building and shattered the windows of a nearby school, causing no injuries. A Benghazi police station was also bombed on May 10, and no injuries were reported.

Another explosion destroyed a police station in Benghazi on May 2; there were no reports of any victims.

A car bomb exploded at the French Embassy in the Libyan capital Tripoli on April 23. Two guards and a woman were injured.

People gather at the scene of a car bomb explosion outside a hospital in Benghazi May 13, 2013 (Reuters / Esam Al-Fetori)

Onlookers take photographs following a car bomb explosion outside a hospital in Benghazi May 13, 2013 (Reuters / Esam Al-Fetori)

People clear debris at the scene of a car bomb explosion outside a hospital in Benghazi May 13, 2013 (Reuters / Esam Al-Fetori)