Gunbattle erupts near Libyan PM's compound

Reuters News
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Posted: May 08, 2012 11:04 AM
Gunbattle erupts near Libyan PM's compound

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - A gunbattle broke out on Tuesday around the compound where Libya's interim prime minister has his office in the capital, a Reuters reporter at the scene said.

A Defence Ministry spokesman said there were dead and injured, but he did not know how many.

Witnesses said an armed militia from a town south of Tripoli had arrived at the compound and started shooting. Security forces cordoned off the area and ambulances could be seen. It was not immediately clear if Prime Minister Abdurrahim El-Keib was inside the compound.

The prime minister's office, a short distance from Tripoli city centre, is frequently the focus of protests by disgruntled militias demanding cash or jobs in recognition of the role they played in last year's revolt to oust Muammar Gaddafi.

Many of the militiamen are armed and occasionally their protests turn violent.

Several witnesses said the shooting on Tuesday was being carried out by a militia from Yafran, a town about 100 km (60 miles) southwest of Tripoli which is populated by members of the Berber ethnic minority.

The Reuters reporter at the scene said there were bursts of shooting, followed by lulls. Police officers could be seen inside the prime minister's compound.

(Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Janet Lawrence)