- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 1, 2011

BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) — A car bomb exploded Wednesday next to the Tebesty Hotel, where foreign diplomats stay in the Libyan rebels’ de facto capital of Benghazi.

Jalal al-Gallal, a rebel spokesman, said the car bomb caused no injuries or deaths. The burning car sent plumes of black smoke into the air.

“It’s a cowardly act,” he said, adding that rebels assume it was carried out by elements of the regime of Libyan ruler Col. Moammar Gadhafi.

Opponents of the Gadhafi regime control eastern Libya. Benghazi is its largest city, where the rebels have set up their provisional government, called the National Transitional Council. Diplomats meeting with rebel leaders go to Benghazi, and many stay at the Tebesty.

The exploding car set three other vehicles on fire. Firefighters put out the blazes within an hour. Charred car parts could be seen in the parking lot.

A crowd gathered at the scene, shouting, “Libya is free!” Rebel forces tried to cordon off the protesters.

The car exploded in the parking lot of the hotel, where some foreign journalists also stay.

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