Libyan TV station hit with grenades: journalists

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 12, 2014 8:07 AM

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Gunmen fired rocket-propelled grenades at a Libyan television channel in Tripoli early on Wednesday after storming the building, forcing out workers and damaging equipment, journalists at the channel said.

The attack just after midnight was on the Al-Aseema television linked to Mahmoud Jibril, the former civil war-time prime minister who later formed the National Forces Alliance movement to oppose an Islamist party in the country's interim congress.

"They forced employees in the night shift to leave, and they burned the place, then they hit the building with RPGs and fled," a senior journalist at the station said, asking not to be identified because of security.

Al Aseema has been broadcasting critical statements about the extension the General National Congress, or GNC, Libya's interim parliament whose initial mandate ended on February 7.

GNC members have voted to extend the parliament's term until later this year to provide some stability, but the congress is unpopular with many Libyans who see little progress in their North African country's transition to democracy.

Rival groups of former rebels, some who have semi-official status with government ministries, are allied to competing political factions in Libya's unruly post-revolution transition and often use force to make demands.

"Your congress doesn't represent us, your bullets will never threaten us," ran a headline on Al Aseema, which broadcast footage of the aftermath of the attack. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the assault.

Nearly three years after the revolt that toppled Muammar Gaddafi, attacks on Libyan media, institutions and ministries are common as the country's new army struggle to contain former rebels, militias and Islamist militants.

Instability, and infighting between Jibril's National Forces Alliance and its main rival, the Justice and Construction Party, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, have deadlocked Libya's interim parliament since it was elected.

(Reporting by Ghaith Shennib; writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Jon Boyle)