Abdullah al-Thinni, Libya's internationally recognized prime minister, has survived an assassination attempt unscathed. Armed gunmen reportedly opened fire on al-Thinni's motorcade as it left a session of parliament.
Libya's internationally recognized prime minister, Abdullah al-Thinni survived an assassination attempt carried out shortly after he left a session of his nation's parliament, officials said.
Al-Thinni told broadcaster al-Arabiya that shortly after he left parliament in the town of Tobruk and drove away, gunmen in several cars followed his motorcade and opened fire.
"We were surprised by a lot of bullets...Thank god, we managed to escape," al-Thinni said.
"The prime minister's car was hit by bullets when armed men opened fire as it was leaving an area where a session of parliament was held," Hatem el-Ouraybi, spokesman for Libya's internationally recognized government told news agency AFP.
Ouraybi said that al-Thinni had not been harmed, but one of his bodyguards was wounded in the assault.
"It was an assassination attempt, and the prime minister survived it," he said. The identities of the assailants who carried out the attack remain unknown.
The attempt signaled a further collapse of authority in Libya, which was plunged into conflict shortly after rebels overthrew Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. Currently two governments and their respective parliaments - allied to various armed militias - are vying for control of the country.
Al-Thinni has been blasted for running what has been deemed an ineffective government in Libya's east, after losing the capital Tripoli in the west to a rival faction, which now controls key government facilities there.
Parliament speaker Aqila Saleh had asked al-Thinni to leave the assembly early out of concern for his safety after numerous protestors opposed to his rule had gathered outside the naval base where the parliament convenes.
Lawmaker Faraj Abu Hashem said the gunmen who had targeted Thinni attempted to storm the building but were driven back.
"Members of the government and the prime minister left immediately as gunmen tried to storm the parliament…but forces prevented them from entering
One burning car was visible outside the parliament venue, lawmakers said.
Al-Thinni's government had originally planned to set up parliament in the city of Benghazi, but had to relocate to Tobruk near the Egyptian border after Benghazi became a battleground between government security forces and Islamist militants.
The Libyan parliament itself has been a target for attacks. Initially the body had convened in a Tobruk hotel but had to be moved to the naval base after a suicide bomber detonated a car in front of the hotel in December.
bw/rc (AP, AFP, Reuters)