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
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

 
/News
 

3 must-do trail runs

If you love trail running, you have to put these on your bucket list.

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Climbing the world’s largest stone arch
Awesome extreme sports people
Watch: 2015 Absa Cape Epic route
Watch: Insane road bike skills!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Automation Engineer

Cape Town Northern Suburbs
Communicate Cape Town Engineering
R360 000 - R450 000 Per Year

Store Manager

Cape Town
Headcount Personnel
R14 000 - R15 000 Per Month

C# Developers for a Microsoft Partner of Choice based in Cape Town CBD

Cape Town
E-Merge IT Recruitment
R540 000 Per Year

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

One day only! – 40% off Appliances!

Get 40% off 100’s of appliances at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop 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

You may prefer to be in charge because then you can call the shots. You are not as flexible as you like to make out to be and you...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.