TRIPOLI, Libya - A powerful car bomb exploded Wednesday near Libya's Foreign Ministry building in the heart of the eastern coastal city of Benghazi, exactly one year after the Sept. 11 attack there that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.
The early morning blast on the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in the U.S. caused no serious casualties though several passers-by were slightly wounded, authorities said.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the assault. However, the bombing targeted a building that once housed the U.S. Consulate during the rule of King Idris, who former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi overthrew in a bloodless coup in 1969.
The bomb blew out a side wall of the building, leaving desks, filing cabinets and computers strewn among the concrete rubble. It also damaged the Benghazi branch of the Libyan Central Bank along a major thoroughfare in the city.
The Foreign Ministry used the building to provide government services to Libyans and foreigners in the eastern region, which is hundreds of kilometers (miles) away from the capital, Tripoli.
The explosion came a day after authorities found and defused another bomb next to the Foreign Ministry building in Tripoli, Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan said.
Speaking to journalists hours after the explosion, Zidan pledged the government would track down those responsible. "There is a force that wants no state and to turn Libya to a battlefield of terrorism and explosions," he said.
Deputy Interior Minister Sadik Abdel-Karim said the country's security situation was "deteriorating."
"The message has been delivered to every Libyan - especially in Benghazi," he said.
Libya has no interior minister since the last one resigned over a conflict with Zidan weeks ago.
Gadhafi was killed after an eight-month uprising that descended into a civil war in 2011. Since then, successive Libyan interim governments have failed to impose law and order. The country remains held hostage by unruly militia forces initially formed to fight Gadhafi. The militias, which have huge stockpiles of sophisticated weaponry, now threaten Libya's nascent democracy.