TRIPOLI: The powerful interior minister of Libya’s unity government survived an assassination attempt on Sunday, an aide said, sparking fears of resurgent violence despite UN-led peace efforts.

Fathi Bashagha’s convoy “was fired on from an armoured car while he was on the highway” near the capital Tripoli, seat of the Government of National Accord (GNA), a member of his inner circle said.

“His police escort returned fire. Two of the assailants were arrested,” the source added.

A third, identified as Radwan al-Hangari, later died in hospital, according to the same source, who added the three assailants hailed from Zawiya, 50 kilometres (30 miles) west of Tripoli.

A journalist heard an intense exchange of gunfire around 3pm on the coastal road near Janzur on the eastern edges of Tripoli, which was later closed for an hour by security forces. An interior ministry official confirmed that Bashagha was unharmed.

In a statement, the ministry said Bashagha had been targeted in an “assassination attempt as he returned from his residence in Janzur”.

It said the attackers had used an armoured Toyota truck fitted with a machine gun.

Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2021

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