Last updated: 29 January, 2014

Libya interior minister escapes assassination bid

Libya’s interior minister said he escaped unharmed from an assassination attempt in Tripoli Wednesday, defiantly vowing not to give in to “intimidation.”

Seddik Abdelkarim, who is also deputy prime minister, told reporters his convoy came under fire on the road to the airport, without causing casualties.

Avoiding any specific accusation of blame, he said the attack was the work of “persons who want to obstruct the stabilisation process” in Libya.

“We will not be intimidated by bullets or bombs… We will not accept directives or threats from anyone,” said the minister.

The official LANA news agency reported earlier that his car came under “a barrage of bullets.”

Libya has grappled with widespread unrest since rebels overthrew and killed long-ruling dictator Moamer Kadhafi in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011.

The attack came less than three weeks after the assassination of deputy industry minister Hassan al-Droui, who was shot in Kadhafi’s hometown of Sirte on January 12.

The uprising left Libya awash in weapons looted from Kadhafi’s vast arsenals, complicating the government’s efforts to rein in former rebels who effectively control much of the country.

Libya has seen near-daily attacks on security forces, particularly in and around the eastern city of Benghazi, cradle of the revolt.

In Tripoli, meanwhile, independent Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has faced criticism from Islamist MPs demanding his resignation, accusing him of failing to improve security.

The Justice and Construction Party, the political arm of Libya’s Muslim Brotherhood, has failed to muster the 120 votes in the 194-member General National Congress needed to censure the premier, but the row is seen as further undermining his authority.

Zeidan was himself kidnapped by gunmen and held for several hours in October.

Since the outbreak of the uprising four people have served as interior minister, with the previous two having resigned. Abdelkarim has held the post in an interim capacity since last August.