Libya govt warns aggression will be met with force

AFP , Wednesday 27 May 2015

Libya's Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni (Photo:Reuters)

The armed forces of Libya's recognised government warned Wednesday they would react to any aggression against the state, a day after the prime minister escaped an assassination attempt.

"The forces of the national army and the security services affirm their support for the legal government and commit to protecting it against any obstacles or aggression hampering its work," a statement on the government's news agency said.

It came after Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani escaped unscathed when would-be assassins opened fire on his car on Tuesday after a session of parliament in the eastern city of Tobruk.

"Any aggression against the seat of government and sovereign state institutions will be followed by a state response using its strength and legality, with force and firmness," the statement said.

Thani's spokesman said after his car was hit by bullets, wounding a bodyguard, that it had been an attempt to kill the premier.

"It was an assassination attempt, and the prime minister survived it," Hatem el-Ouraybi told AFP.

The parliament recognised by the international community has been based in Tobruk near the border with Egypt since the Fajr Libya militia coalition seized the capital last August.

The elected government is also based in the east.

Tripoli hosts a rival government and parliament that is close to Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn).

The shooting came after a meeting of parliament at its Tobruk headquarters.

Parliament spokesman Faraj Abu Hashem said gunmen had tried to storm the building but were driven back.

"The parliament was questioning the government work in a session today, when we heard gunshots outside," he said over the phone.

"Members of the government and the prime minister left immediately as gunmen tried to storm the parliament... but forces prevented them from entering."

Libya has seen near daily attacks on security forces, particularly in and around the eastern city of Benghazi, cradle of the revolt that toppled and killed Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

In January last year, Libya's then interior minister said he escaped unharmed from an assassination attempt in Tripoli, three weeks after deputy industry minister Hassan al-Droui was shot dead in Kadhafi's home town of Sirte.

Since the 2011 uprising, the North African nation has descended into chaos, with armed groups battling to control its cities and oil wealth.

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