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Libya not a ground where to "flex muscles": Italian FM warns

Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni on Friday said the international community should keep a clear strategy in Libya, and avoid undertaking "rushed actions" in the war-torn North African country.

Gentiloni made his remarks a day after a bomb attack targeted a police-training center in the town of Zliten, in western Libya. Some 60 people were killed and 200 wounded, according to Libyan authorities.

A local group affiliated to the so-called Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack, which was seen as the worst since the country was engulfed in civil war after the fall of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The IS group itself claimed another deadly suicide bombing carried out on Thursday at a checkpoint in the oil terminal coastal town of Ras Lanouf, east of Sirte, in which another 7 people died.

"Libya is not a stage where to flex muscles," Gentiloni told state broadcaster RAI Radio 1, when asked about the possible international community's response to these latest events.

"A military action might appear as justified in this moment. Yet, it would not leave on the ground what Libya is in real need of, which is the beginning of a stabilization, but rather create more confusion," said Gentiloni.

The international community should "keep the bar straight, and avoid undertaking rushed actions" in the Libyan crisis, Gentiloni added.

The North African country has been locked in fighting among rival armed factions since after Gaddafi was ousted, and the IS has benefitted from the turmoil, increasing its presence in the country.

This is a factor of major concerns for the international community, and for Italy, whose coasts lie only a few hundred kilometres from Libya.

The two rival Libyan parliaments, the internationally-recognized Council of Deputies in Tobruk and the self-proclaimed Tripoli-based General National Congress (GNC), agreed in December on a UN-brokered peace deal in order to stop the fighting and form a national unity government.

Yet, tension in negotiations remained, and it was feared a mid-January deadline to form such government might not be met.

"Each day that goes lost in forming this (national unity) government is a day that gives some more space to the Islamic State," Gentiloni urged on Friday.

The peace process will be the "only goal" in Italy's immediate agenda, according to the minister.

"Of course, if this diplomatic path will fail to consolidate in the next months, there would be other options to contain (terrorism). But it must be very clear: these are two separate and different scenarios," Gentiloni said.

[Source: Xinhua, Rome, 08Jan16]

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