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State Islamic (IS) branch in Libya claims deadly hotel attack in Tripoli

By Tajuddin
Jan 28th, 2015
Libyan authority in the hands of a terrorist tribal militias

Libyan authority in the hands of a terrorist tribal militias

Tripoli ( Agencies + DIPLOMAT.SO) – The Libyan branch of ISIS has claimed responsibility for a deadly gun and bomb attack on a luxury hotel in the Libyan capital in which five foreigners, including an American contractor, died.

At least 10 people and two attackers were killed in Tuesday’s attack against the Corinthia Hotel, said a spokesman for a security division of the Ministry of Interior in Tripoli, Essam al-Naas.

The Libyan branch of ISIS released photos Wednesday of the two gunmen it said had carried out the attacks, identifying them as Abu Ibraheem Al-Tunsi and Abu Sulaiman Al-Sudani. Their naming convention indicates that the men were of Tunisian and Sudanese origin, respectively.

Al-Naas said it appears the attackers were Libyans.

American contractor David Berry was among the people killed in the attack at the Corinthia Hotel, according to Cliff Taylor, chief executive officer of Crucible, a security firm where Berry was working.

The other foreigners killed were a French citizen and three people from Tajikistan, al-Naas said. Five Libyans lost their lives.

The French Foreign Ministry confirmed that a French citizen was among the dead but did not identify the victim.

The FBI is expected to open an investigation into the incident, two U.S. officials told CNN. A State Department official confirmed the death of a U.S. citizen, but would provide no further information.

The Tripoli government, which is not internationally recognized, said the intended target of the attack was its prime minister, Omar al-Hassi, but the claim has not been confirmed.

Al-Naas earlier said at least two Libyan security personnel had been killed in the attack.

An online group that supports ISIS said the attack was carried out in the name of Abu Anas al-Libi. He was an alleged al Qaeda operative accused of involvement in the bombing of U.S. embassies in Africa. He was captured by U.S. special forces in Tripoli in 2013. He died in a U.S. hospital this month.

It’s this declared link to al-Libi’s capture by the United States that has prompted the FBI to investigate.

Fighters loyal to ISIS have for several months been in control of the Mediterranean port city of Derna in eastern Libya, near the border with Egypt. They are suspected in other attacks elsewhere in Libya, including in Tobruk, Al-Bayda and Tripoli.

Explosion then gunshots

Tuesday’s attack began when militants detonated a car bomb in the parking lot of the hotel. The gunmen then shot their way into the hotel.

The five-star hotel is popular among government officials, some of whom live there.

Until now, the high-rise hotel was seen as one of the remaining secure locations in Tripoli for diplomatic and government activity.

The attack, different in scale and coordination to those seen previously — even after months of violence in Libya’s east — sends the message that nowhere in the country, or its capital, is safe.

Authorities say they are now in control of the hotel premises and are starting their investigation.

Threats against U.S. citizens

The self-proclaimed Tripoli government, formed by a coalition of militias, holds sway only over the capital and surrounding areas. The internationally recognized parliament was forced to leave the capital after militia groups seized control of the city in the summer.

The U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, the United Nations and other international organizations and businesses also evacuated their staffs from Tripoli in the summer due to the unrest.

The U.S. State Department last week issued a warning advising U.S. citizens against all travel to Libya and recommending that any U.S. citizens currently in the North African country should leave immediately.

“Extremist groups in Libya have made several specific threats against U.S. government officials, citizens, and interests in Libya,” it said.

“Because of the presumption that foreigners, especially U.S. citizens, in Libya may be associated with the U.S. government or U.S. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), travelers should be aware that they may be targeted for kidnapping, violent attacks, or death.”

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