Benghazi - A car bomb exploded during the funeral of an ex-army commander in the Libyan city of Benghazi on Thursday, killing at least three people and wounding 15, a hospital said.

A security official said the attack, the first in over a year in the bastion of Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar, targeted servicemen at the funeral of Khalifa Al Mesmari, a special forces chief under Libya’s ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The Benghazi Medical Centre said the blast in a cemetery left three dead and 15 wounded, without specifying whether the victims were civilian or military.

Al Jala, another hospital in the city, said it was treating wounded but did not specify the number.

Benghazi, Libya’s second city and the cradle of the 2011 uprising that overthrew Gaddafi, was hit by years of violence targeting diplomatic offices and security forces after his fall.

An attack on the US consulate on September 11, 2012, killed US ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

The last attack in Benghazi was in May 2018 and left seven people dead.

In 2017, Haftar drove extremists out of Benghazi after a brutal three-year battle.

He went on to seize Derna, the only city in eastern Libya outside his control.

In early 2019, Haftar ordered his Libyan National Army to purge the south of what he called “terrorist groups and criminals”.

On the heels of that campaign, his LNA launched in April an offensive to take the Libyan capital from the UN-recognised Government of National Accord.

Fighting on Tripoli’s outskirts has since killed 1,048 people, including 106 civilians, and left 5,558 wounded, including 289 civilians, according to a report released Tuesday by the UN’s World Health Organisation.