Daily Mountain Eagle
 LATEST NEWS
 Top Stories
 U.S.
  Severe Weather
  Bird Flu
 World
  Castro
  Mideast Crisis
  Iraq
 Business
 Personal Finance
 Technology
 Sports
  Sports Columns
  NASCAR
  Baseball
  College Hoops
  NBA
  NHL
  Tennis
  Golf
 Entertainment
 Health
 Science
 Politics
 Washington
 Offbeat
 Podcasts
 Blogs
 Weather
 Raw News
 NEWS SEARCH
 
 Archive Search
 SPECIAL SECTIONS
 Multimedia Gallery
 AP Video Network
 Today
 in History
 Corrections
May 26, 7:23 PM EDT

Gunmen try to kill Libya's recognized prime minister


AP Photo
AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

Interactive
Inside Libya
Interactives
Gunmen try to kill Libya's recognized prime minister

UN envoy: IS poised to become 'serious threat' in Libya

Tunisian gov't: 60 citizens released in Libya, many remain

Libya sends special envoy to talk with EU about migrant plan

Buy AP Photo Reprints
Multimedia
Libya Opening Doors to Tourists

BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) -- Gunmen tried to assassinate Libya's internationally recognized prime minister on his way to the airport in the eastern city of Tobruk on Tuesday, a spokesman for his government said.

Arish Said, head of the government's media department, said that Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni's motorcade was attacked and one of his guards was lightly wounded but that there were no fatalities.

"They managed to escape," Said said.

Prior to the attack, he said armed men who had been protesting outside a session of the Tobruk government's House of Representatives tried to storm the building, firing shots into the air and demanding al-Thinni be removed from office.

They were "threatening to kill the prime minister and force the House to sack him," Said said. He identified the men as being funded by "corrupted political financiers" linked to powerful Tobruk tribal leaders, without elaborating.

The session was postponed until next week before the attempted assassination.

Nearly four years after the ouster of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi, Libya is consumed by chaos. The country split is between an elected parliament and weak government, and a rival government and parliament in Tripoli set up by the Islamist-linked militias that took control the capital, forcing the government to relocate to the far eastern cities of Tobruk and Bayda.

The turmoil has enabled the rise of an active Islamic State branch, which now controls at least two cities along the country's coastline.

Before the assassination attempt, a leader from Tobruk's dominant Obiedi tribe, Faraj Abu Alkhatabia, threatened al-Thanni on private broadcaster Libya Awalan.

"This prime minister must resign, if he doesn't I will smash his head," he said, adding that "either he leaves or we won't let the house of representatives stay in Tobruk."

A national security adviser to the Tobruk government, who declined to comment for fear of retribution, linked the threat to powerful Tobruk businessman and oil magnate Hassan Tatanaki, a member of the same tribe who owns the Libya Awalan television station.

"This morning the prime minster spoke with the head of the house of representatives regarding the pressure applied by Libyan tycoon Tatanaki who wishes to be appointed foreign minister." Tatanaki's office could not be immediately reached for comment.

Earlier Tuesday, Human Rights Watch said civilians, including foreign nationals, are trapped in several neighborhoods in Libya's embattled eastern city of Benghazi, urging fighters there to let them depart without conditions.

In a statement, the U.S.-based group says militias and army units have surrounded the downtown areas, where several hundred people are reportedly trapped and not allowed to leave. Some of those trapped were Syrians, Palestinians, and Asian and African nationals.

Middle East and North Africa director Sarah Leah Whitson said that all forces involved must take all feasible precautions to minimize harm to civilians and civilian property, and that the Libyan army and militias must allow civilians safe passage and facilitate access to badly needed aid.

---

Associated Press writer Brian Rohan contributed to this report from Cairo.

© 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.