Armed groups gathered outside a Maltese-owned hotel in Tripoli on Friday night, as political tensions in the Libyan capital escalated.
Video posted to social media showed armed and uniformed men standing at the entrance to the five-star Corinthia Hotel. More than 20 armed vehicles are believed to have gathered outside the hotel.
Sources told Times of Malta that the armed group demanded a meeting with council president Mahamed Younes al-Menfi and two other deputies. The Libyan News Observatory reported that the groups also searched cars belonging to al-Menfi and Foreign Minister Najla al-Mangoush.
A spokesperson for the presidency council confirmed that the building had been raided but claimed that nobody from the council was in the building at the time of the incident.
Malta's ambassador to Libya Charles Saliba told Times of Malta that all Maltese on site are safe. Nobody is believed to have been injured in the incident.
The Corinthia Hotel Tripoli, which is owned by Maltese business group International Hotel Investments, was the site of a terrorist attack in 2015 that left 10 people dead.
Friday’s raid appeared to be an eruption of tensions against the national unity government’s foreign minister, el-Mangoush, over the sacking of the government's intelligence chief.
Libya’s presidency council serves as the country’s head of state and has been backed by the United Nations. It is led by a chairman who is backed by vice-chairmen representing the historical regions of Libya. Decisions must be approved unanimously by the chairman and vice-chairmen.
Despite UN backing and international recognition, both the presidency council and the government of national unity face challenges to their authority and do not peacefully govern over Libya.
Military commander Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army, which controls much of the country’s east, continues to serve as their main antagonist, more than one year after Haftar’s attempt to seize Tripoli failed.
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