At least 16 people were killed and 20 wounded in Libya’s capital city, Tripoli, after 2 inghimasis [suicide fighters] stormed the main HQ of the country’s High National Elections Commission (HNEC).
The Islamic State has officially claimed responsibility in a statement (below) released just 5 hours after the attack by Nashir, the media arm of the terror group’s central command. The statement identified the attackers using only their jihadi aliases of Abu Ayyoub and Abu Tawfiq and said the attack was a “response to the call of Shiekh Abi al-Hassan al-Muhajir [spokesman of Islamic state central] to attack the apostate electoral centres and those calling for it”.
According to initial reports, two dark-skinned militants stormed HNEC’s building in Tripoli’s Qurji district at around 7am local time following a brief shootout with the guards. It was understood that they then gained access to the building’s second floor where they opened fire at random before detonating their explosive belts. Several eyewitness accounts have confirmed hearing three explosions inside the building.
The video below was making the rounds on social media immediately after the attack purporting to show the guards engaging in a shootout with the attackers.
In March, both al-Naba newspaper – Islamic State’s online publication - and fan pages of the terror group have published electronic leaflets in Arabic urging followers across the globe to “attack and bring down the idol of democracy”.
Tight security measures were immediately imposed across the city by pro-GNA militias including the evacuation of Abu Laeila Tower and the HQ of the National Oil Corporation in central Tripoli as well as setting up ad hoc checkpoints and closing the roads leading to the Prime Minister’s Office in al-SeKkah road, the Courts Complex in Bab bin Ghashir, and the Municipal Council in Algeria Square.
Fayez Sarraj, head of Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), and Ahmed Mesmari, the spokesman of eastern Libya’s self-styled Libyan National Army, have both issued statements condemning the attack as a heinous act of terrorism.