A truck bomb exploded in the western Libyan city of Zliten near a police base, killing at least 60 policemen and wounding 200 on Thursday, officials said.
No one claimed responsibility for the bombing, but a local Daesh affiliate has been trying to gain a foothold in Zliten from its central stronghold of Sirte.
Rescue crews have only managed to extract 60 bodies out of the wreckage, a hospital spokesman, Moamar Kaddi, said. Libyan officials said they believed there might be dozens more dead.
The base, where 400 police recruits were training, was used by the border police, a Zliten security official said. Border police foiled numerous human smuggling attempts off the coast of Zliten last year. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Smugglers are known in Libya for responding with violence to any effort to disrupt their operations.
In recent years, thousands of migrants seeking a better life in Europe sailed from Libya on rickety, overcrowded boats. Hundreds have drowned in those crossings.
Libya slid into chaos following the 2011 toppling and killing of longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi. The oil-rich country is torn between an Islamist government in the capital, Tripoli, and a rival internationally recognized government in the east; meanwhile a UN-supported unity government sits in neighboring Tunisia.
Residents in Libyan coastal cities have long expressed fears of the variety of smugglers and traffickers who run lucrative operations along the Mediterranean. Authorities echoed the same concerns, claiming they are unable to fully tackle these networks without international assistance.
Source: Arab News