On the morning of December 26th, ISIS claimed responsibility for a three-man suicide raid on the Libyan Foreign Ministry in Tripoli which left at least 3 civilians dead and at least 18 injured on the previous day.
On December 25th, the attack began when a car bomb exploded near the ministry, causing security forces to rush to the scene. Then, a suicide bomber blew himself up on the second floor of the building. A second attacker died when his suitcase exploded. A third assailant, who was unarmed and wearing a bulletproof vest, was killed by security forces outside. The timeline of the attack was provided by Tarak al-Dawass, spokesperson for the special forces.
Interior Minister Fathi Ali Bashagha said however that apart from the attackers only 2 people were killed. While other sources claim they were 3. The number of injuries varied between 10 and 21, with 18 being the most commonly mentioned.
The blast set off a fire inside the building, and black smoke could be seen billowing from its windows, footage from state television showed. The pavement outside was scattered with glass and debris, and nearby cars were on fire.
Al-Dawass also blamed ISIS before they claimed responsibility. Early on December 26th, Libya Province, a local arm of Islamic State, claimed credit for the attack.
Security forces cordoned off the area and took control of all the buildings around the foreign ministry headquarters, Al Jazeera’s Tripoli correspondent Mahmoud Abdelwahed said.
Abdul-Rahman Mazoughi, a prominent leader of the Revolutionary Brigade militia group was also killed, according to the group’s spokesperson cited by Reuters.
The Director of the ministry’s Islamic Affairs Department Ibrahim Al Shaieb was among the dead, Foreign Minister Mohamed Siala said. Siala was not injured in the attack. He said the foreign ministry had been targeted because “it is a symbol of sovereignty.”
The foreign ministry denounced the attack, saying “the Libyan people are waging a war on terrorism on behalf of the world.” He also denounced the arms embargo imposed on Libya since the fall of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.
The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) condemned the attack, stressing the need to “prevent terrorist groups from turning Libya into a haven or an arena for their crimes.”
Foreign Minister Siala said that the security arrangements agreed between the Libyan Government and the UN after a month of clashes in the south are yet to be implemented.