At least three dead after gunmen attack luxury hotel in Libya capital: official

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 27, 2015 6:58 AM

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Gunmen attacked a hotel in Tripoli on Tuesday where government representatives and foreign delegations often stay, killing three security guards and probably taking hostages, officials said.

The gunmen first detonated a car bomb outside the Corinthia Hotel, killing the three guards. At least three of the attackers then stormed the luxury hotel, fighting with security forces who tried to evacuate guests.

"The security forces are evacuating the guests floor by floor. There was shooting between the gunmen and the security forces," Essam Naas, a spokesman for Tripoli security forces, told Reuters.

"It is more than likely that there are hostages held by the gunmen on the 23rd floor."

One gunman has been arrested, Naas said, adding that security forces were surrounding the seaside hotel. Two Filipino women were wounded by smashed window glass.

Tripoli-based al-Nabaa television channel said "senior officials" were inside the hotel but no further details were immediately available.

Libya is caught up in a conflict involving two rival governments -- an internationally recognized one based in eastern Libya and a rival administration set up in Tripoli after an armed faction called Libya Dawn took over the capital.

Most foreign governments closed their embassies and pulled their staff out of Tripoli after fighting between the rival factions erupted last summer.

It was not immediately clear who carried out Tuesday's attack, but the SITE monitoring service said a militant group claiming affiliation with Islamic State had claimed responsibility.

Citing social media, SITE said the group claimed the attack was revenge for the death of Abu Anas al-Liby, the suspected al Qaeda figure alleged to have helped plan the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. He died in hospital this month in New York ahead of his scheduled trial.

(Reporting by Ahmed Elumami; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Gareth Jones)