Libyan PM Escapes Assassination Attempt

Abdullah al-Thinni reveals gunmen met him with a hail of bullets as he left parliament, but he managed to survive.

Ari Yashar,

Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni
Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni

Abdullah al-Thinni, the internationally recognized Prime Minister of Libya which has been divided by internal conflict between two governments tied to armed militias, survived an assassination attempt on Tuesday.

Thinni told Al-Arabiya that as he left a parliament session in the town of Tobruk and drove off in his entourage, gunmen in a convoy of cars chased him and launched a hail of gunfire towards his vehicle.

"We were surprised by a lot of bullets...thank G-d, we managed to escape," Thinni said, noting that one of his bodyguards was wounded in the exchange.

According to Thinni's cabinet, the gunmen were "paid criminals" who in the past tried to storm the parliament.

Thinni had left the parliament session after protesters assembled outside the naval base where the parliament meets, lawmakers told Reuters. Parliament speaker Aqila Saleh asked Thinni to leave for his own safety.

The lawmakers said a burning car was visible outside the base, and that after Thinni left the session continued.

The incident highlights how fragmented Libya has become since dictator Muammar Gaddafi was ousted in 2011 amid the "Arab Spring."

Thinni has come under fire for not succeeding in managing the east of the country, after losing the capital city of Tripoli in the west to a rival faction last August.

While his government originally intended to establish its parliament in Benghazi, it relocated to Tobruk near the Egyptian border as fighting between Islamist militias and government forces broke out in Benghazi.

Initially the parliament was situated in a Tobruk hotel, but after a suicide bomber blew up a car in front of the hotel last December, it was moved to the naval base.