Libya Herald reporters
Tripoli, 27 January 2015:
Gunmen claiming to belong to Daesh today attacked the Corinthia Hotel, the unofficial headquarters of the . . .[restrict]antigovernment of Omar A-Hassi, killing three guards, possibly more, and detonating a car bomb in the car park as guests fled though services doors.
A firefight has been taking place between Libya Dawn security forces who reportedly entered the hotel. There are reports that the attackers, believed to number five, have seized hostages. It is unclear if any members of the Hassi regime, including Hassi himself, are trapped in the building. There are reports that he may have been evacuated along with eight Americans from a service entrance. At least one staff member, believed to be from the Philippines has been injured.
The Associated Press has quoted Essam Al-Naas, of the Tripoli Security Agency, as saying that there was now a continuing stand off.
The agency said it was also told by a member of the hotel staff that the masked attackers, wearing bullet-proof vests had burst past the security post outside the building and fired at random at staff in the hotel’s lobby.
The Libya Herald has been told by someone close to the hotel that a warning of an imminent attack may have been received last night.
The Maltese-run Corinthia Hotel has 299 rooms, of which it is reported only ten percent are currently occupied. British, Turkish and Italian guests have been mentioned as being in the hotel at the time of the attack.
The pro-Libya Dawn TV station Al-Nabaa has said it had seen a post on a Daesh-linked web site which claimed that the onslaught had been carried out by the “Abu Anas Al-Libi Assault”. This is a clear reference to Nazih Al-Ruqaii, alias Abu Anas Al-Libi, seized outside his Tripoli home in October 2013 and taken into US custody. Libi died of liver cancer at the start of this month, just before his New York trial was due to open. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsular vowed to avenge his death.
When Libi’s body was returned to Tripoli on 10 January, Hassi’s Minister for Wounded and Martyrs in the Hassi Mohamed Al-Jazwi, called Libi ”a hero”. Hassi himself as described Ansar Al-Sharia as “beautiful”.
Libya Dawn, which controls the capital, has persistently insisted that Daesh is not present in the capital, despite growing evidence of the fact.
The former prime minister Ali Zeiden also based himself in the Corinthia, from where he was kidnapped in October 2013. On that occasion the attackers gained entry by telling hotel security staff that they had a warrant for his arrest. [/restrict]