Gunmen have opened fire on a motorcade of Libya’s Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha in the capital Tripoli but he has escaped unharmed, a source close to Bashagha says.
The attackers fired heavily on Bashagha’s convoy as he drove through western Tripoli after visiting the National Oil Corporation and the headquarters of the ministry’s law enforcement force, the source said.
Bashagha’s guards exchanged fire with the attackers before pursuing them, killing one, injuring another and arresting two, according to the source.
The attack comes as the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), in which Bashagha serves, prepares to make way for a new interim government selected in a UN-led process aimed at unifying Libya’s warring factions.
Bashagha, a prominent figure from the eastern city of Misrata, was a losing candidate to become prime minister of the unity government, but has made public statements of support for the new administration.
Initial investigations seemed to show those who carried out Sunday’s attack were from Zawiya, another powerful city 45 kilometres west of Tripoli, the source said.
The attack comes days after the 10-year anniversary of Libya’s 2011 uprising.
As interior minister, Bashagha had pledged to rein in armed groups that have held power on the ground in western Libya since the uprising and often enjoy official status under the ministries of defence and interior.
Recent weeks have been relatively calm, but heavy gunfire could be heard from central Tripoli overnight between Saturday and Sunday.