Tripoli, 4 February 2013:
Colonel Hamid Al-Hassi, the leader of the military wing of the self-proclaimed Cyrenaica Transitional Council, has said he was besieged in a Tripoli hotel yesterday by an armed group trying to arrest him. In written statement read out on Al-Asima TV today, Monday, he said that the siege had gone on for more than five hours but that eventually his bodyguards had managed to get him out safely, aided by local residents and revolutionaries.
He did not say who the armed group was.
Last night, it was briefly reported on the General National Congress’ Facebook page that Hassi had been shot at while leaving a hotel in Tripoli’s Omar Mukhtar Street. It was “brief” because the story then disappeared from the page.
No official reason for Hassi’s presence in Tripoli has been given although there have been reports that he had come to the capital to talk to about the possible replacement of Chief of Staff Yousef Mangoush and to present himself as a potential successor.
The presence of Hassi in Tripoli will have been seen as provocative by some elements in the city in view of the Cyrenaica federalists’ call for mass demonstrations in Benghazi and elsewhere on 15 February. The call has sparked fears of violence on the day and has prompted a security clampdown across the country.
There was an attempt to assassinate the controversial Hassi in November in Benghazi. One of his bodyguards was said to have been killed in the attack.