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Libyan Official Survives 'Attempted Assassination'

Gunmen ambushed Fathi Bashagha’s motorcade
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 21, 2021 1:50 PM CST

(Newser) – The interior minister of Libya’s UN-backed government survived an ambush by gunmen on his motorcade on Sunday, the AP reports, a brazen attack highlighting the towering challenges that remain for the newly appointed government that is trying to unite the country before elections late this year. Armed men opened fire at Fathi Bashagha’s motorcade on a highway in Tripoli, wounding at least one of his guards, said Amin al-Hashmi, a spokesman for the Tripoli-based Health Ministry. He said the minister survived the attack and his guards chased the assailants, killing one and detaining two others. The Interior Ministry said in a statement that Bashagha was returning to his residence in the Janzour neighborhood when armed men in an armored vehicle opened fire on his convoy. The statement called the attack an “attempted assassination” of the minister.

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Earlier Sunday, Bashagha met with Mustafa Sanalla, head of Libya’s National Oil Corporation to discuss the security of oil facilities and how to strengthen the corporation’s independence to “ensure a fair distribution of wealth among all Libyans.” He posted a photo for both of them on his Twitter account, calling their meeting “fruitful.”" The US Ambassador in Libya Richard Norland also condemned the attack and called for an investigation to hold those responsible accountable. “Minister Bashagha’s focus on ending the influence of rogue militias has our full support,” Norland said. Oil-rich Libya was plunged into chaos after a 2011 NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. The country has been divided between two governments, one in the east and another in the west, each backed by a vast array of militias as well as foreign powers. (The former head of Blackwater allegedly sent mercenaries to Libya.)

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