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Suicide attack kills 15 as IS target Libyan elections

China Daily | Updated: 2018-05-04 09:37

Libyan police check the site of Wednesday's suicide blasts at the electoral commission headquarters in the capital Tripoli. AFP

TRIPOLI, Libya - The death toll in an attack by Islamic State suicide bombers on the headquarters of the Libyan Higher Commission of Elections on Wednesday has risen to 15, according to a medical source.

Confirming the deaths, Abdaddaem al-Rabti, an official of the public Tripoli Field Hospital, said late on Wednesday that 9 commission employees, 4 security personnel and 2 terrorists had died while 21 people were injured.

The terrorists stormed the building's main gate on Wednesday, exchanged fire with the security, and blew themselves up after being surrounded by security personnel.

The attack took place as the UN-backed government, in cooperation with the UN Support Mission in Libya, prepares to hold presidential and parliamentary elections before the end of this year, as proposed by the head of the mission, Ghassan Salame.

Abdalhakim Belkhair, deputy head of the commission, said the attack "seeks to send out clear messages attempting to thwart the upcoming elections in any way".

The UN-backed Libyan government declared three days' national mourning for the victims, saying: "These crimes will only increase our determination to unite against them and to fight terrorism in all forms."

Libya has remained mired in chaos following the 2011 uprising that toppled former leader Muammar Gadhafi. It is struggling to make a democratic transition amid political division and unrest, as well as the dominance of armed groups and militias.

The UN Support Mission in Libya called on authorities to "prosecute and bring perpetrators to justice as fast as possible".

"Such a cowardly attack on this democratic edifice is a direct aggression against the Libyan people and their will to build a just and civil state, and against their hope of finding ways out of the transitions to establish peace and stability across Libya," said Salame.

The latest attack took place as the Libyan government, in cooperation with the UNSMIL, is preparing to hold presidential and parliamentary elections before the end of this year, as proposed by Salame in September.

More than 53 percent of eligible voters had registered for the elections.


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