At least 12 people have died after a group of militants including suicide bombers stormed
the head offices of Libya’s electoral commission in Tripoli on Wednesday and set fire to
the building, officials said.
Confirming the incident, the electoral commission spokesman Khaled Omar revealed that
the security forces engaged in a gun battle with the assailants as they tried to regain
control of the building.
Pictures posted on social media showed thick black smoke billowing from the site of the
attack, in the Ghout al-Shaal district west of central Tripoli.
“I saw two suicide bombers myself… they were shouting Allahu Akbar (God is greatest),”
said Omar, adding that he had seen bombers’ body parts strewn on the ground.
“A suicide bomber blew up himself inside the commission and the others set a part of the
building on fire.”
According to Omar, The victims of the attack included three employees of the
commission and four members of local security forces. The health ministry has also put
the toll at 12 dead and seven wounded.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack but it appeared aimed at
derailing efforts to organised elections in Libya by the end of this year. The commission
recently registered nearly one million new voters across Libya, though no date has been
set for polls.
Wednesday’s attack was the first of its kind in Tripoli for several years. Though security
across Libya remains volatile, violence in the capital has recently been limited to
localised clashes between armed groups.
Libya has been in a state of turmoil since a 2011 civil war resulted in the overthrow of
longstanding ruler Muammar Gaddafi by rebel fighters backed by NATO air strikes.
Elections in 2014 were disputed, resulting in rival governments backed by competing
military alliances in Tripoli and the east.