More than 20 reported dead in Benghazi car bombing

A car bombing targeting security forces in Benghazi, Libya Tuesday killed at least 23 people and wounded dozens more, a hospital official there told The Associated Press.

The news came one day after the U.S. launched a bombing campaign targeting Islamic State fighters in their Libyan hub of Sirte, hundreds of miles west of Benghazi, on the Mediterranean coast.

The official said bodies were still arriving at the hospital in the aftermath of the bombing Tuesday evening in the al-Qawarsha district on the outskirts of the city. For the past two years, fighting has been raging in Benghazi between forces under the command of Brig. Gen. Khalifa Hifter and Islamic militias.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

A coalition of Islamist militias called the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries, which includes the Al Qaeda affiliate known as Ansar al-Shariah, claimed responsibility for the deadly attack in a statement posted on its Twitter account.

The U.S. airstrikes on Monday followed a request made by the internationally-recognized government and presidency council in the capital, Tripoli. The two executive bodies were formed after the United Nations brokered a deal among Libya's rival factions.

Libya has descended into chaos following the 2011 ouster and the killing of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Since 2014, the country has been divided between two governments and parliaments, and a loose set of militias and tribes. The U.N.-brokered government led by Fayez Serraj aimed at healing the rift, but a crucial vote of confidence has yet to be obtained from the parliament.

The parliament in eastern Libya does not recognize the U.N. government, and many in the east are angry that Serraj's administration invited foreign military intervention without the eastern parliament's consent.

The U.S. airstrikes, which were authorized by President Obama, are supporting the militias of Misrata, a city next to Sirte that is leading the anti ISIS-operation.

Misrata forces have been battling ISIS since May in fierce fighting that has killed and injured hundreds of militiamen.

A 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.