We perish because we know not… #TLENews
A Libyan security official says that gunmen have stormed a luxury hotel in Tripoli and taken an unknown number of hostages after killing at least three guards.
Essam Al-Naas, a spokesman for a Tripoli security agency, told the Associated Press that a standoff was ongoing Tuesday at the Corinthia Hotel, which sits on the Mediterranean Sea.
Another security official confirmed there were hostages but had no further information on who they were. He also said that two commercial landmark towers behind the hotel were evacuated out of security concerns. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.
A hotel worker who spoke on condition of anonymity said five masked attackers wearing bulletproof vests stormed the hotel after getting past security at the gates, firing in the air before shooting randomly at staffers. He said the hotel was evacuated before the attackers clashed with the guards and blew up a car bomb in the parking lot.
The man said the car bomb exploded after a protection force entered the lobby and opened fire on the attackers. He said two guards were immediately killed.
The staffer said the hotel had Italian, British and Turkish guests, but was largely empty at the time of the attack. He said the militia-backed Prime Minister Omar al-Hassi usually resides at the hotel, but was not there Tuesday. The hotel previously came under attack in 2013 when a former prime minister was abducted there.
Since the ouster and 2011 killing of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, the country has been torn among competing militias and tribes vying for power. Libya’s post-Gadhafi transition has collapsed, with two rival governments and parliaments — each backed by different militias — ruling in the country’s eastern and western regions. Tripoli has been hit with series of car bombs and shootings amid the turmoil.
The Malta-owned hotel is also where the United Nations support mission in Libya holds its meetings. The mission is currently hosting political talks with rival Libyan groups in Geneva.