Libya arrests key bomb suspect

2012-08-20 21:40

Tripoli - Libyan authorities arrested the key suspect behind two deadly car blasts and three of his accomplices, the interior ministry said on Monday, identifying them as Gaddafi loyalists.

"The key suspect was arrested and admitted that he was directly responsible [for Sunday's attacks in Tripoli] along with four other people," Deputy Interior Minister Omar al-Kadhrawi told a news conference.

Police are still hunting for a fifth suspect, he said, adding that all of the alleged bombers were loyalists of now slain Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

The twin car bombs killed two people and wounded four others in Tripoli in an attack that came at dawn as Muslims prepared to attend special prayers on the first day of the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

Kadhrawi said the key suspect had testified that he orchestrated the bombings to avenge the death of his brother in a Nato raid during last year's revolt which toppled Gaddafi's regime.

Other former regime officials, who fled to neighbouring countries such as Tunisia and Egypt, are also implicated in Sunday's attacks, Kadhrawi said.

He told AFP on Sunday that security services had been tipped off about the possibility of attacks.

On Monday he told the news conference that the suspects had been under surveillance and that authorities had foiled several other attacks that had been planned by the same group of suspects.

High Security Commission

One was due to have taken place on 7 July when Libya held its first post-revolution polls to elect a national assembly, Kadhrawi said.

Earlier, a spokesperson for the High Security Commission announced that several suspects had been arrested in connection with the Tripoli bombings.

"Several individuals were arrested in Tripoli, some of whom acknowledged having direct or indirect links with the blasts," said Issam al-Naass.

The High Security Commission, which is linked to the interior ministry, is made up of former rebels who helped topple Gaddafi last year.

The first car bomb on Sunday blew up near a military academy on Omar al-Mokhtar Avenue, a main Tripoli thoroughfare, while the other exploded near the interior ministry.

Both detonated just before worshippers began to gather in the city's central Martyrs' Square for traditional open-air prayers to mark Eid al-Fitr.