The Islamic State terror group is believed to be behind today’s deadly attack at the HQ of Libya’s foreign ministry.
At least three dark-skinned suicide attackers have this morning stormed the building and started shooting inside killing four people and wounding 10 others. One attacker was shot dead by the guards and the other two blew up their suicide vests setting the entire building ablaze. A fourth militant is said to have had blew up a car-bomb at the building’s backside gate.
The foreign minister is due to hold a press conference at 2pm Libya time. And although today is a public holiday marking Libya’s Independence Day which fell on 24 December, government buildings in Tripoli’s city centre have been evacuated, including the temporary office of the National Oil Corporation and the Auditor General’s HQ.
Abdurrahaman Mezoughi, the spokesman and prominent member of Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade, is among those killed by the attack and so are Ibrahim Sheiby, director of the ministry’s Islamic Affairs Department, a female employee named Hend Arnaouti and an unidentified member of the Diplomatic Police.
We have been in regular contact with Mr Mezoughi until as recently as few days ago and have always found him to be very competent and well-informed. By his death, Libya has lost a real patriot known as one of Tripoli’s most level-headed and moderate security officials who was at the centre of all security and political developments in the capital. Our thoughts and condolences are with his family and friends.
Today’s attack is the third largest terrorist attack to hit Tripoli’s ‘most secure area’ in the last seven months: In May, 16 people were killed in a similar attack on the country’s national elections commission while 3 others were killed in September in an attack on the National Oil Corporation.
UPDATE: The four attackers were dark-skinned dressed as street cleaners. Three were dropped outside the building by a white Hyundai sedan whose driver has later blew himself up in the car park. One was shot dead by the guards while the other two managed to enter the building before blowing themselves up in the second floor.
Speaking at a press conference earlier today, Mohammed Siyala, the foreign minister, said: “This attack has only strengthened our commitment to the establishment of this country as a civil and democratic state. That is why tomorrow morning the foreign ministry is going back to work from a new building given to us by the Presidency Council”.
Fathi Bashagha, the interior minister of the UN-backed government, said that a plan for ‘security arrangements’ has been agreed for Tripoli which is yet to be implemented “until the central [Misrata] and western [Zintan] military zones are allowed to be deployed to the agreed locations”. Mr Bashagha has complained from lack of resources, adding that he will chair a security meeting later today.