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Libyan Leader Escapes Assassination Attempt

Mohammed Megaryef, president of Libya's national assembly, has escaped an attack on his hotel in the southern oasis of Sabha.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 1/7/2013, 4:45 AM

Libyan National Congress President Mohammed Megaryef
Libyan National Congress President Mohammed Megaryef
Reuters

Mohammed Megaryef, president of Libya's national assembly, has escaped an attack on his hotel in the southern oasis of Sabha, AFP reported.

Megaryef's spokesman on Sunday called the incident an assassination attempt.

"The hotel he was staying in was attacked for three hours. There was sniper fire. It seems to have been an assassination attempt," the assembly chief's spokesman, Rassmi Beruwien, told AFP of the incident that happened on Thursday.

"Three people from military security were wounded but unfortunately nobody was caught. Attacking where the president is staying -- that is an assassination attempt," he added.

Megaryef, who was unhurt, spoke to state television about the incident in remarks spread on social networking sites.

"At around 2 am, there were explosions and sniper shots at the hotel where we were staying. The exchange of fire lasted about three hours," he said, according to AFP.

The incident underscores the challenge Libya's new authorities face in securing the south, a desert region rife will illegal trafficking and full of weapons left over from the 2011 conflict that toppled dictator Muammar Qaddafi.

Tribal clashes in the oil-rich south killed hundreds of people in 2012.

Last week, an improvised bomb exploded outside the headquarters of the public prosecutor in the Libyan city of Benghazi, causing material damage but no fatalities.

The overnight blast, which marked the third attack on the site in 2012, he said.

In 2012, the Libyan city witnessed a series of assassinations targeting security officials and judges, many of whom had served under the previous regime.

Benghazi has also emerged as a hub for jihadist groups, including al-Qaeda linked terrorists who killed ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in the September 11 attack on the U.S. consulate.

In December, Tripoli imposed martial law on the southern part of the country and ordered that the land borders with Chad, Niger, Sudan and Algeria be closed.