Gunmen storm Libyan parliament

2014-05-18 22:09

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Tripoli - Heavily armed gunmen stormed Libya's parliament with anti-aircraft weapons on Sunday in an assault claimed by forces loyal to a renegade ex-general who has vowed to purge the country of Islamist militants.

In a confusing, chaotic attack, heavy smoke rose from the parliament building in Tripoli as gunmen clashed with guards. A Reuters reporter said the attackers raided and left, and other unknown gunmen later closed off nearby streets.

Another witness said attackers had kidnapped two people and heavy gunfire could be heard across other parts of Tripoli, where rival brigades of former rebels have often clashed since ending their 2011 war against Muammar Gaddafi.

Details of who carried out the parliament attack were unclear, but a spokesman for retired Libyan general Khalifa Haftar said his forces had carried out the assault as part of his campaign to rid Libya of Islamist militants.

"These are members of the Libyan National Army," Mohamed al-Hejazi, spokesperson for the group said, using the name of the irregular forces loyal to Haftar.

Haftar, a former rebel in the war against Gaddafi, had already sent his fighters into Benghazi on Friday against Islamist militants based there, claiming Libya's government had failed to halt violence in the eastern city.

At least 40 people were killed in those clashes, which involved some air force helicopters.

On Saturday, parliamentary speaker and military commander-in-chief Nuri Abu Sahmain accused Haftar of trying to stage a coup. Several reports said Sahmain had been kidnapped after Sunday's attack, but he denied that.

Armed brigades

After the 2011 Nato-backed war, Libya's weak government and nascent army struggled to impose any authority over heavily armed brigades and militias who once fought Gaddafi and have become powerbrokers often challenging the state.

Libya's parliament has been paralysed by divisions between Islamist parties and more nationalist rivals, leaving many Libyans frustrated at the lack of progress toward democratic transition since the fall of Gaddafi.

Militia brigades in armoured trucks mounted with anti-aircraft canons have often stormed parliament, occupied ministries and even kidnapped the prime minister last year in a show of military muscle to make political demands.

But Sunday's attack on parliament was the most serious violence in the capital for months, and appeared to expand Haftar's campaign against hardline Islamists, who emerged as a force in North Africa since the Arab Spring revolts of 2011.

Lawmaker Omar Bushah told Reuters that gunmen had stormed into the General National Congress building, raiding lawmakers' offices and set the building on fire.

There were no immediate reports of any casualties from hospital officials.

Coup rumours

Haftar stirred rumours of a coup in February by appearing in a Libyan military uniform to call for a presidential committee to be formed to govern until new elections as a way to end the country's political impasse.

It was unclear how much support Haftar has in the regular armed forces or among the network of competing militias who have carved out fiefdoms in parts of the country.

But in Benghazi, the cradle of the uprising against Gaddafi, authorities have struggled to curb violence and stem attacks blamed on Ansar al-Sharia, an Islamist group that Washington labels as a terrorist organisation.

Since the end of Gaddafi's one-man rule, Libya's fragile democracy has hobbled from crisis to crisis with the country on its third prime minister since March, its new constitution unwritten and parliament deadlocked by infighting.

Just hours before the attack, new Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq announced he had formed a government pending parliamentary approval this week, after the country went nearly two months without a functioning government.

Complicating Libya's transition, the most powerful brigades of former rebels - such as the Zintans, the Misratans and the Operations Room of Libya's Revolutionaries - have loosely allied themselves competing political factions.

Former rebel commanders and protesters have also taken over key oil ports and pipelines, cutting Libya's oil output to 200 000 barrels per day from 1.4 million bpd to demand more autonomy and a greater share of oil wealth.

Read more on:    libya  |  north africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
3 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
SPONSORED CONTENT
When is a mountain more than just a mountain? 2014-12-18 07:26

When it’s an adventure! A group of Old Mutual employees found out how much is enough courage, endurance and camaraderie to take on Africa's highest peak.

/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

Summer Survey!
Great ideas for the best summer sandwiches!
Christmas lingerie to make this festive season the best one ever!
13 things you might not know about Disneyland

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

HOUSES FOR SALE IN Hermanus

Houses R 2 680 000

HOUSES FOR SALE IN Paarl

Houses R 2 690 000

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

The energy today is serious, materialistic and hardworking. You may find you get a new outlook on things and you may want to spend...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.